FOXBOROUGH — A year ago, when the Revolution held a ceremony announcing the start of work on a $35 million training facility, owner Robert Kraft said he hoped it would be the “first of two great groundbreakings.”
A soccer-specific stadium in Boston is still stuck on the drawing board, but Kraft remained hopeful as the team held an official opening event for the workout facility Monday.
“It’s a little later than we would’ve liked it to happen, but we were working on getting a stadium in the city,” Kraft said of the training complex. “And that was our priority, and it’s taking us a little while.
“As you know, this is New England; things take a little longer to happen here. But it actually was a positive — because we realized that this is a special, bucolic setting and in a way gives us a competitive advantage for certain types of players.”
The Revolution recently added two players — Dutch left back Alexander Buttner and midfielder Kelyn Rowe, who returned to the team as a free agent last week — and could sign a third Designated Player, according to sporting director/head coach Bruce Arena. They have declined options on forwards Juan Agudelo (claimed by Toronto FC), Juan Fernando Caicedo (returning to Independiente de Medellin), and Brian Wright, plus defender Edgar Castillo.
“We’re still fully committed to trying to build an urban stadium for the Revs,” team president Brian Bilello said. “We’re working diligently for that. I don’t have a timetable. It’s still our No. 1 priority, to get that done.
“Robert is always encouraged. Robert’s a dreamer. He believes if you put everything into it and work the right way that you can achieve anything. I know that’s the big achievement, outside of winning MLS Cup, that we’re looking to get for this club.”
The training setup, located on 68 acres behind Gillette Stadium, includes a 30,000-square-foot administrative building with locker rooms and three training fields, one with heating coils to allow year-round play. The venue will be used by the Revolution, the Revolution II squad that will play in the USL next year, and the Development Academy.
“This is the best facility I’ve ever been in in my career,” said Arena, who has won five MLS titles with D.C. United and the Los Angeles Galaxy. “Things weren’t great at the LA Galaxy, like you’d like to believe. We didn’t have great training facilities or a day-to-day environment like this.
“When I was at New York Red Bull, we used to drive in our cars to practice fields. This is as good as it gets, so we’re looking to build a good team in 2020.
“We want to be better, we want to get better next year. Championships don’t happen overnight. But we think we can be better and that’ll be the challenge for our team.
“All the teams I’ve been with in this league that have won championships, my theme from Day 1 isn’t to win championships, it’s to be a good team. So that’s what we’re going to try to do. If we can become a good team, it positions us to try to challenge and win championships.”
The Revolution have ramped up investment in the team, in the last two years adding Michael Mancienne, their first $1 million-salaried defender; Spanish midfielder Carles Gil on a $2 million transfer from Deportivo La Coruna; and forward Gustavo Bou, a $6.7 million transfer from Club Tijuana in Mexico.
Last season, the Revolution rallied to finish in seventh place, qualifying for the playoffs for the first time since 2015.
“It’s all part of building a culture and being able to track players, and having a culture every day at our club where players are motivated,” Arena said. “They come to work every day and they see this and want to be a part of it.
“We’re going to tell them there’s no excuses where you can’t get better. We’ve created an environment that also sends a message to the community, to the players – we want to win championships here.”