|FOXBOROUGH, Mass (January 3, 2011) – The New England Patriots were recognized at Sunday’s game for setting a new record this season, and it had nothing to do with play on the field.More than 19,000 fans in the stands at Gillette Stadium this season pledged to be designated drivers and ensure a safe ride home from the game for friends and family. The Patriots finished the season in the top spot in terms of designated drivers among all NFL teams….and set the single season NFL record for pledges.
(left to right)Jim Nolan, New England Patriots Senior Vice President of Operations, Finance and Administration; Massachusetts State Police representative Lieutenant Jeff Stuart; Bill Elliott and Muriel Elliott, founders of the HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers; Jill Pepper, TEAM Coalition; Robert Kraft, President and CEO of the New England Patriots; Ted Reading, Patriots Designated Driver for the Season and his daughter
Starting in 2009, the New England Patriots, the New England Revolution, Gillette Stadium, the Ensign John R. Elliott HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers and TEAM Coalition came together to educate fans about the importance of using a designated driver, buckling up and demonstrating positive fan behavior. The message is simple: “Be a HERO, Be a Designated Driver.” The response from Patriots fans was massive.
“Patriots games should always be a fun and safe environment for our fans, whether inside the stadium or driving home afterward,” said Jim Nolan, New England Patriots Senior Vice President of Operations, Finance and Administration. “We are thrilled by how many of our fans embraced this program throughout the season.”
“The HERO Campaign is proud to be associated with the New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium and our partners in promoting the use of designated drivers in memory of our son John,” said Bill Elliott, Chairman of the HERO Campaign. “A designated driver is truly a hero by keeping others safe on the way home after the game. Our goal is to register a million designated drivers nationwide and make the use of designated drivers as automatic as wearing a seatbelt.”
Patriots fans who pledged and demonstrate responsible behavior at any Patriots game throughout the season received a complimentary soft drink, a commemorative key chain, pro shop discounts and a chance to be selected as the Designated Driver for the Game. Each week, the Designated Driver for the Game from the previous home game was recognized with a pregame ceremony on the field.
At Sunday’s game, Jill Pepper, executive director of TEAM Coalition and Bill and Muriel Elliott, founders of the HERO Campaign, presented the award to the Patriots. Following the designated-driver award presentation, the Patriots Designated Driver for the Season – Ted Reading of Franklin, MA – was recognized as an honorary team captain. Franklin joined the Patriots’ captains at the 50-yard line for the pregame coin toss. He also received a commemorative game ball. Additionally, if the Patriots advance to Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium in North Texas on Feb. 6, 2011, Franklin will attend the championship game as the grand prize winner of the sweepstakes component of the Responsibility Has Its Rewards campaign, a league-wide effort supporting designated-driver programs with all 32 NFL teams. Four additional designated drivers for the season will received an autographed Patriots helmet. At Gillette Stadium this season, there is no doubt that Responsibility Has Its Rewards.
“Fans who pledge to be designated drivers are critical to the success of the Responsibility Has Its Rewards campaign,” said Jill Pepper, executive director of TEAM Coalition. “Teamwork is exactly what this campaign is all about, and through this program we are demonstrating that when everyone – including the fans – takes responsibility, everyone wins.”
The designated-driver program is just one component of the fan behavior initiatives offered by the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Other components include:
- A Fan Code of Conduct posted in and around Gillette Stadium
- Text messaging (text “CONDUCT” + message to 78247) and phone hotline (508-543-8200) that empower fans to anonymously report disruptive behavior to security
- Certification of over 1,700 employees across every department operating in Gillette Stadium in effective alcohol management training
- Alcohol service policies, including ID checks for all fans, no more than two alcoholic beverages per person per transaction and alcohol cut-off at fifteen minutes into the third quarter
About TEAM Coalition
TEAM Coalition is an alliance of professional and collegiate sports, entertainment facilities, concessionaires, stadium service providers, the beer industry, broadcasters, governmental traffic safety experts, and others working together to promote responsible drinking and positive fan behavior at sports and entertainment facilities. TEAM’s members and supporters include the National Football League, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, the National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, National Collegiate Athletic Association, ARAMARK, Delaware North Companies Sportservice, Ovations Food Services, Beer Institute, National Beer Wholesalers Association, Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors, Live Nation, National Association of Broadcasters, Contemporary Services Corporation, Elite Show Services, International Association of Venue Managers, Stadium Managers Association and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. www.teamcoalition.org
About The HERO Campaign
The HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers was launched by the Elliott family in August of 2000 in memory of John’s tragic death at the hands of a drunken driver. The purpose of the HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers® is to promote the use of sober designated drivers to prevent drunken driving tragedies throughout our country. In cooperation with schools, businesses, law enforcement agencies, and other community-based organizations, we ask you to help keep drunk drivers off our highways. www.herocampaign.org