Editorial — With its fans itching to see live sports, the New England Revolution stepped up and inventively redefined drive-ins.
The club invited fans to Gillette Stadium for each of the team’s three group games at the MLS is Back Tournament, but with a special twist: Supporters can drive their cars onto the playing field and watch a live broadcast of the game on the jumbotron.
The drive-in watch parties for New England’s first two games — a 1–0 victory over the Montreal Impact and a 1–1 tie against D.C. United — both sold out. It costs $40 for each vehicle to enter, but the Revolution have donated the all the proceeds to the United Negro College Fund’s Virtual Walk for Education, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Boston Branch, and Special Olympics Massachusetts.
Once on the premises, each vehicle goes through a security check before being filed into a parking spot on the field. Concessions remain closed, so fans need to bring snacks and non-alcoholic beverages from home. In addition, those in attendance must respect the state’s six-feet social distancing guidelines.
“I wanted to go really bad, and it was a chance to go to Gillette Stadium for the first time since March, before the quarantine started,” Cameron Ramos, a lifelong Revolution supporter who attended with his wife and two family friends, said.
“Getting to watch the game on the field, where the Revs and Patriots play, is pretty cool. It felt like a drive-in movie. But when they scored, the whole place went nuts with horns blaring and lights flashing and everyone screaming.”
Drive-in parties: new, fun, safe
Angela Costa, a Revolution season ticket holder for six years, has attended every game with her husband and three-year-old son. She also bought three extra car spaces to further support the local nonprofits receiving donations from the Revolution.
She said she enjoys trekking to Foxborough in her family’s Jeep Rubicon Gladiator and taking part in a unique experience.
“I was anti buying the Jeep until we got to the game,” Costa said. “We sat in the bed of our truck… our little family.”
Costa, who describes herself as avid fan, is hesitant about sports and daily life returning to normal too fast. She has an auto-immune disease and is exercising caution as the coronavirus pandemic continues, though she feels safe at Gillette Stadium.
“Having the ability to enjoy a family-friendly event, inside the safety of our own car, distanced enough from strangers, for me is overwhelming — but overwhelming in a good way,” she said. “I’m still on this amazing high of energy because of what the club did for us. It’s so unique.”
Revolution fans: More watch parties, please
Many who follow MLS, including some Revolution fans, often bemoan the club’s use of Gillette Stadium and its “cavernous” game day atmosphere. However, Revolution fans have shown creativity at their home ground during the MLS is Back Tournament, as they’ve decked out their cars with flags and scarves and continued leading chants.
“Opposing teams poke fun at the Revs, whether it’s our logo, the football stadium, the chants used, there’s always something,” added Costa, who posted a video from inside Gillette Stadium during the Montreal game that’s been viewed more than 40,000 times on Twitter. “But I know when people saw the first drive-in parties their jaws dropped. Others look at us and are saying, ‘Hello, why aren’t we doing this?’ Now the next team that does is a copycat. I’m happy we were the first ones.”
— Angela Costa (@AngelaMM25) July 10, 2020
Julia Sepe, another lifelong Revolution fan, liked entering the stadium by car and parking on the field. She echoes other fans who want the club to continue holding drive-in parties even after the pandemic ends.
“Other teams in MLS aren’t offering this to fans right now,” Sepe said. “Depending on what happens after, I’d like to see them use the stadium for watch parties again.
“It’s different than a regular game. I think people have come together and joined in something they’ve missed so much. The players aren’t there, but we’re all rooting for the same thing and it brings morale up.”