Gillette Stadium Exterior

Gillette Stadium

FOXBORO — Believe it or not, there will be free parking for New England Patriots fans for the upcoming season at Gillette Stadium, but there’s a catch: You’re going to have to wait 75 minutes after the game is over to leave.

Stadium officials hope the free parking will ease post-game traffic congestion along Route 1 for the eight home games of the season.

Offering free on-site parking is believed to be a first for any NFL stadium.

And there is more welcome news for fans.

If you don’t like to wait, and who does, the Patriots are reducing the price to park in about three quarters of their parking spaces.

Lots on the southbound side of Route 1 across from the stadium will fall from $40 to $30.

This is also where the free lot is located.

However, lots on the northbound side of Route 1 will jump from $40 to $60 for the regular season games. They will remain at $40 for the two upcoming exhibition games, Aug. 22 at 7:30 p.m. against the Carolina Panthers and Aug. 29 at 7:30 p.m. against the New York Giants.

If you decide to purchase a season pass for all 10 games, you will receive a 10 percent discount ($504) and a guaranteed spot regardless of when you arrive for the game.

The free parking will be available to any ticket holder who registers to park in the designated Delayed Exit Lot.

The Delayed Exit Lot is in Lot 55 in the back of Lots 10 and 11 and is accessible from Route 1 north and south.

Lot 55 will operate as follows: four hours before kickoff, Lot 55 opens along with all stadium parking lots. Thirty minutes after kickoff, Lot 55 is secured.

No vehicles will be able to enter/exit the lot after this time. The lot will re-open 75 minutes after the game ends.

Those who use the free parking can kill time after the game at Cross Pavilion to watch NFL programming. Free snacks and non-alcoholic beverages will also be handed out at the Pavilion after night games. And you can always roam Patriot Place stores and restaurants.

The free parking is an expansion of a pilot program conducted last year.

For free parking, fans traveling northbound on Route 1 should enter via the P10 South entrance. Those traveling southbound on Route 1 enter via the P10 North entrance.

To view the parking map for the Delayed Exit Lot, and for more information, visit www.gillettestadium.com/parking .

The season kicks off Sunday, Sept. 8 at 8:20 p.m. at Gillette Stadium as the Super Bowl champ Patriots take on the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Stephen Peterson can be reached at 508-236-0377.

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