One of the big stories in New England this week is the University of Massachusetts announcing that it will join the Mid-American Conference for football, which means it is moving up a division.
UMass, which currently plays in the Division I FCS subdivision, will play a full FBS and MAC schedule starting in 2012. Games will be at Gillette Stadium.
In an "On College Football" piece in Thursday's Boston Globe, reporter Mark Blaudschun writes on Patriots owner Robert Kraft's role in making the move happen.
"When University of Massachusetts administrators asked Kraft for help in their quest to elevate the program from the FCS to the FBS level, Kraft not only helped, he made the biggest donation any backer could: He gave them Gillette Stadium rent-free. For the foreseeable future," Blaudschun writes. "... UMass came up a winner, and the man who deserves the most credit for that is Bob Kraft."
Blaudschun notes that as part of the agreement, Kraft will receive a share of revenue when/if crowds come. Last year's UMass/New Hampshire game at Gillette Stadium, which drew 32,848, was a promising sign in that regard.
One additional benefit for Kraft is that hosting games at Gillette Stadium could create more foot traffic at Patriot Place, the 1.3 million square feet of shopping, dining, and entertainment around the stadium.