New England Patriots visit Palm Beach Atlantic University
The New England Patriots decided to practice somewhere other than their home field in Boston, Massachusetts, by going back to college. The Patriots practiced for a week at Palm Beach Atlantic University to adapt to the humidity and heat before their game on Sept. 11 against the Miami Dolphins.
TJ Budd, PBA's associate athletic director for administration, said that the Patriots chose PBA to get familiar with Florida’s infamous hot weather conditions. During their Sept. 7 practice, WPTV First Alert Weather meteorologists said the weather was 90 degrees. The highest was 96 degrees.
“The Patriots staff thought the athletic campus was more than suitable for them to practice and get the work that they needed to do before week one of the NFL season,” Budd said.
Bill Belichick, the Patriots' coach, said he chose PBA because of the school’s availability and location.
A similar situation happened in 2016 when the Patriots practiced at Florida Atlantic University to adapt to the weather as well.
Since PBA does not have a football team, there was more flexibility and creativity for the Patriots because there were no conflicting schedules.
Budd stated, however, that PBA’s lacrosse and soccer teams had some minor changes to their practice schedules since the Patriots used the soccer and lacrosse fields at PBA’s Rinker Athletic Campus. Students were not allowed to talk to the players or use the facilities at the same time as the Patriots. There was higher security at the fields during the Patriots’ practice times. Students were not allowed to access the facility along with athletes unless they had practice or were using the weightroom.
“They were still able to practice and still get the work that they needed to get done in that time frame,” Budd said.
Ben Lightsy, a student athlete on the men's lacrosse team, explained that he hopes the national publicity will bring more professional teams to PBA.
Because news media outlets like ESPN reported on the Patriots practicing at the RAC, PBA received more publicity. Not only does this bring press to the university, but it also brings more opportunities for other professional teams to use the facility.
Lightsy discovered that the Patriots were practicing at the RAC by a team manager who said he wanted to keep the field in good condition for the Patriots.
“It brought national presence to our campus, which is something that we do not typically get, so the opportunity that we had to have live hits from the NFL network right here in the Rinker sports center are things that are very unique and opportunistic for us,” Budd said.
PBA has not stated if there will be more professional teams using the RAC in the future.
In their game against the Dolphins, the Patriots lost 7-20. They will play them again on Jan. 1, 2023.
By Kileigh Gagnon and Daniella Parra