Thursday, August 30, 2012

Banned in Foxboro

I’ve never been to a Patriots’ game. And I can’t imagine the circumstances under which I would attend one. (Actually, that’s not quite true: if I had seats in Bob Kraft’s protected-from-the-elements luxury box, and a room in whatever upscale hotel abuts the Playing Field of Champions, I would consider attending a game.) But, having gone to a Springsteen concert at Gillette Stadium a few years back, I fully understand the complete and utter horror of getting out of the parking lot and onto Route 1 (built, I believe, in 1920’s when only 5% of the population owned a car, and they were all flivvers), only to sit in traffic for an additional hour as you wend your way to a real highway.

There are actually people who tailgate after events at Gillette to avoid the ghastly danse macabre to get out of the parking lot. Talk about No Exit.

I also understand that there are folks who live in the vicinity who have to carefully plan their Pats-at-Home-Sundays – either leaving home early and returning home late, or just hunkering down and hoping that they don’t run out of milk or go into labor.

To make up for some of the trouble that game-day traffic brings on them, some of the locals have been running impromptu parking lots in their driveways and/or on their lawns.

But the Town of Foxboro is now banning the practice.

Not everyone is lauding this move:

“We are carrying a lot of burden for the town’s benefit,” said [local farm owner Nancy] Lawton, who does not sell spaces but lets friends use her driveway for the games. “I think they deserve a little money for their trouble. I think it’s their right.” (Source:

On the other side:

“It’s been a growing issue because of the high volume of traffic,” said Edward O’Leary, the town’s police chief. “We had to do something.”

I’m sure it’s annoying if the folks next door are causing a lot of commotion and crapping up the neighborhood, but how much worse is it than the general crapping up caused by football traffic?

It strikes me that this would have been better settled if each block decided whether they wanted to allow paid parking or not. But maybe that just wasn’t feasible. (Maybe good old fashioned, neighborly moral suasion and/or the spirit of one-for-all-and-all-for-one  just doesn’t work.)

Meanwhile, how are they going to stop someone from letting friends and family park in their driveway? Or people from claiming that the person who just slipped them two tens and a fiver is actually long lost Cousin Zeke, who’s parking for “free”? Will they have to post a cop on every corner, refusing entry to anyone who can’t prove they live there? What if you’re trying to have company come over that day – nothing to do with a Pats game? Would you have to produce a list of those who would be waved in?

Sounds like a ban might be as big a pain in the butt as allowing the hawkers to earn a few extra bucks.

I live on the other end of the block where the Cheers bar is located. On the night of the final episode, Jay Leno (I think – but maybe it was David Letterman) ran his show from the street out front.  Our block was cordoned off, and only ticket holders, and those who could prove residency, could get in. It was, needless to say, a complete cluster. We had a friend visiting, and had to provide his name and a description to the security folks so that they’d let him in. Then we caught some kids trying to break into the back entrance to our building. Apparently, they thought if they could get over the gate, it would be not much of deal to bust down the back door and make there way out the front entrance, eluding the police. And getting to see the cast of Cheers yucking it up with Leno. (Or Letterman.) So I do understand that it can be unpleasant to live near a popular venue.

On the other hand, with the possible exception of Nancy Lawton, whose family farm has probably been in Foxboro since before Paul Revere’s ride, I suspect that most of the people who live in the environs of Gillette Stadium moved in knowing full well that they were living close to a place that hosts regular football games, as well as occasional concerts.  Which means that, on game day or show time, they’re going to be annoyed and inconvenienced whether or not the guy next door is stuffing cars into his driveway or not.

Without actually thinking about it too much one way or the other, I’m not quite sure which side I come down on.

But if I threw a coin in the air to decide, I come down on letting those running a parking lot for the day continue to do so. (Even though I suspect that 99.99% do NOT report the parking fees they collect as income.)

Why should Bob Kraft – who married money, and used that running start to lever a lot more of it – make all the dough? On top of the colossal amount that people know doubt pay for tickets, they have to pay another $40 to park in the Gillette parking lot.

So let’s make a stand for the little guy with the flag, waving strangers into his driveway and charging them $25 to park there, and making their post-game getaway a tiny bit easier.

But, hey, I don’t live there.

And unless I’m sitting in Bob Kraft’s box, I doubt that I’ll even make it down there for a game.

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