FOXBOROUGH — The Revolution’s progress has often been stunted by their status as a secondary tenant at Gillette Stadium. But they could be taking steps to escape the shadow of the Patriots, thanks to a $35 million training facility and the hope of a possible soccer-specific stadium in Boston.
“We hope this is the first of two great groundbreakings,” Revolution investor/operator Robert Kraft said at a ceremony announcing the training site Monday morning, “which are going to make soccer even stronger in our community.”
The Krafts have invested more than $10 million into design renderings and other expenses related to stadium planning, according to a source close to the negotiations.
“If it was up to the two of us, the next groundbreaking would be this afternoon,” investor/operator Jonathan Kraft said.
“We really are working very hard on that. And I know people don’t believe it, so actions speak louder than words, so we’ve got to make it happen.”
The Krafts would not comment on proposed sites for a stadium, but the Frontage Road/Widett Circle area could be among the favorites.
Meanwhile, the Revolution’s practice setup is expected to be completed next year and could surpass the workout facilities of the Patriots.
Plans are for a 42,000-square-foot building (which will include a barber shop), plus three full-size training fields (two natural grass, one artificial turf) on 68 acres behind Gillette Stadium.
“This is not precluding us from doing something with a stadium; we are trying to pursue a stadium off-site,” Revolution president Brian Bilello said. “But the amount of land we have here gives us flexibility.
“We wanted to make sure our site wasn’t landlocked. If we needed another field or a residency program or if just the way we train athletes means in the future we need twice as much space.
“For the amount of money we’re investing in this, it can’t last five years. It needs to last 30 years, 50 years, in one way shape or another, and if it needs to be upgraded, it can be.”
The Revolution will combine first team, Development Academy, and administrative offices in the complex.
“Unlike any of the other sports, our junior players, our academy players, are going to be able to train alongside the pros,” Jonathan Kraft said. “And really be in the same building. And it will be something they can aspire to be and understand what it means to be a pro while they’re still young.
“Around the world, that model has worked so well, and in the United States it hasn’t yet.
“It’s just starting to happen, so I’d like to think we’re really going to be on the cutting edge of how that’s happening in MLS.
“And to have all this space to work with, this will really probably just be the first phase of our training complex. We’ll have the ability to keep adding to it as the needs of the team and sport demands.”
Residency and dormitory facilities could be part of an expansion.
“If you’re a kid who is a great basketball player or baseball player and soccer player, and you have a chance to be in the Revs Academy and train down here in this building, I think you’re choosing soccer,” Jonathan Kraft said.
“We want these great athletes who have a choice now to see they have a great path in pro soccer. When this building is built, there will be no junior sports complex in any of the other sports in Massachusetts or New England that will rival this.”
The Revolution are in their 23rd season, and this past weekend they were eliminated from MLS playoff contention.