A New England Patriots Tale of Yore...

The Boston Patriots were a team of wandering souls. Since their inception in 1960, the team had played in five separate locations - Soldiers Field (Harvard University), Nickerson Field (Boston University), Alumni Stadium (Boston College), beloved Fenway Park, and Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama. After a great deal of legal and financial wrangling, owner Billy Sullivan acquired a piece of land on Route 1 in Foxboro that was nearly equidistant from Providence and Boston. The Boston Patriots would become the New England Patriots, and a new stadium in the town of Foxboro would become their permanent home.

In traditional Billy Sullivan fashion, the owner built the stadium at a bare minimum of cost, skimping and cutting corners in every phase of design. Sullivan was reportedly irate when the initial estimate of $6.9 million was overrun by $200,000 (or just less than the cost of a bottled water at Yankee Stadium). The bargain-basement stadium was completed in just under 11 months. And because of the dealings that had to be made with local authorities, the Foxboro Board of Selectmen are the only independent group that can determine the NFL's schedule, and the town of Foxboro also receives a share of every ticket sold for events at the stadium. It is one of the few times that a community has taken such advantage of a sports team.

Sullivan also became one of the pioneers in selling stadium naming rights. He convinced the Schaefer Brewing Company to put their name on the stadium, and Schaefer Stadium was born. Schaefer could not have been a more fitting sponsor for the team and its fans. Their first slogan "The one beer to have when you're having more than one" symbolized the unruliness of the fans, who rarely if ever had only one.

So what about The Great Flush?

Ah, yes. The Great Flush. As the 1971 season approached, the shameful Schaefer Stadium was ready to be introduced to the world. The preseason began and thousands of fans suffered the first of many Route 1 traffic jams on their way to see the Patriots play. But a funny thing happened. Someone at the stadium went to the bathroom (presumably after a few cans of smooth Schaefer Beer). And then someone else did. And then a whole bunch of people did. And the system couldn't handle it. The sinks and toilets began to overflow. All of them. The bathrooms filled with water. It was disgusting.

With the Board of Health threatening the shut down the stadium just weeks before the season opener against the Oakland Raiders, Sullivan hired an emergency team to fix the flow control problems, and organized what has come to be known as The Great Flush. Members of the Patriots front office, stadium workers, local journalists and Sullivan himself organized into teams and were positioned throughout the stadium. At the sound of the scoreboard horn, everyone ran around, comically flushing every toilet to prove to the Board of Health that such a situation wouldn't happen again. One journalist wrote of the event, "it was the first time that the sportswriters in this town all pulled for the Patriots."

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