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FARINELLA: Kraft mailing probably needs fine print - The Sun Chronicle : Patriots

FARINELLA: Kraft mailing probably needs fine print

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Posted: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 12:00 am

It's not enough to just exist within a close-knit town for a large corporate entity to feel the love from the community surrounding it.

That's true even if you're a reasonably benevolent entity, one that manages to outweigh the drain on a small town's resources and patience with the benefits of taxation or other recompense, not to mention frequent acts of charity.

It doesn't have to be particularly sincere; as Randy Moss once said, "Straight cash, homey." Dollars often speak louder than words.

Yet it's not a bad idea for the corporate entity to at least make an effort to buddy up to its neighbors. Good feelings, or at least the appearance of them, tend to grease the skids the next time the corporate entity comes to the little town seeking a dozen more liquor licenses or an access road through the woods, or things of that sort.

For the past 12 years, I've called Foxboro my home. It's been a bit of an adjustment for an old Mansfield boy to embrace the self-anointed "Gem of Norfolk County," but it feels like home after all this time and as a result, I've taken an interest in some of the things that go on within it from day to day.

And, of course, I'm subject to those that would chart the course of my opinion if given the opportunity.

Every three months or so, I get a mailing from the folks at Gillette Stadium called "Partners in Patriotism." It's a slickly-produced 12-page newsletter, printed in full color and on glossy stock, that touts the company line of the Kraft Group in a manner that shouts out, "Hey! We're your big buddies over on Route 1!"

OK, maybe I'm being a little cynical. That's one of the job requirements. Life might be more pleasant if we could trust everything we were told by people in some form of authority or another, but it would also be a lot easier for them to exert their will over us.

This quarter's edition of "Partners in Patriotism" certainly is chock-full of "news." On the front page, there's an article touting the premise that summertime events at the stadium complex could net the town of Foxboro "nearly $1 million in revenue." On the second page is a "By the Numbers" feature that claims that the money raised this summer could fund 15 schoolteachers making $65,000 a year, or 13 new school buses, or a full year of the public works department's budget, or two new top-of-the-line fire engines.

On Page 3 is a huge story about how Foxboro residents can attend a free practice of the Patriots in the stadium on Aug. 1 - a little late for my purposes if I weren't a sportswriter covering it, however, because I received the newsletter four days after the fact. Oops!

On Page 5 is the Kraft Group's explanation of the new access road that would extend from Route 140 to Patriot Place parking lots that would be used only by stadium employees. Pages 6 and 7 have a colorful calendar of upcoming events, and the remaining pages contain stories about the Patriots' charitable endeavors or recent events that benefit local organizations. In all, it's pretty uplifting stuff.

And for the most part, it's information that you would have already read weeks ago in The Sun Chronicle or our sister publication, the Foxboro Reporter - and in a few instances, without the sugary frosting on top.

For instance, the newspapers have already covered the proposal to build the new access road for stadium employees. We've dutifully reported the Kraft Group's contention that the road will help alleviate event-day traffic on Route 1 by removing approximately 1,200 employees from the traffic mix.

What you won't read in "Partners in Patriotism," however, is the other side of the story. Last Monday, we reported that the town's Planning Board is skeptical of exactly how much the access road would affect game-day traffic. Most stadium employees arrive at the facility long before the game-day crush begins, and leave long after the initial exodus, so a new road is unlikely to have any impact upon the traffic crawl that fans might experience in their treks to Gillette Stadium closer to game time.

The board did agree that another access road might be a benefit during emergency situations, so my guess is it will be green-lighted with that in mind. But that's not mentioned in the "P in P" article, so a Foxboro resident would have learned more about the situation by reading one of his or her hometown newspapers than by simply relying upon the mailing.

Don't get me wrong. I'm glad the Kraft Group is trying to get its message out. It doesn't seem like that long ago (although it was) when Billy Sullivan and his sons tried to steamroll things past town officials with as little public scrutiny as possible, only to be "shocked" when the town might step in and stop everything in an effort to catch up.

And yes, Robert and Jonathan Kraft have come close to making some of the same mistakes over the 20 years they've run the franchise - particularly in their support of the Steve Wynn-run casino across the street that also filled my mailbox with pleas for my vote. I didn't write a column five years ago suggesting that the Krafts should secede from Foxboro and create their own municipality named "Kraftville" without good reason.

More than anything else, the point of this missive is for the residents of Foxboro to welcome the newsletter into their homes as part of their efforts to stay informed. But they should also keep their ears open and receptive to what the late radio journalist Paul Harvey called, "the rest of the story."

MARK FARINELLA may be reached at 508-236-0315 or via email at mfarinel@thesunchronicle.com. Read Farinella's blog, "Blogging Fearlessly," at thesunchronicle.com/blogs/markfarinella.

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