With Gillette aglow, Foxborough in dark

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- While most of Foxborough remained without power on Tuesday from Tropical Storm Irene, service was back at Gillette Stadium, where the New England Patriots' final exhibition game is scheduled for Thursday night.

A power company spokewoman said it was "absolutely not" true the team received special treatment.

The club had internal discussions about how to handle the game against the New York Giants if power was not restored, but no decision was made before the lights went back on.

"We thought we might have to go down to the new MetLife Stadium (the Giants' home) to play the game there," Patriots owner Robert Kraft said Tuesday. "We know it's a serious situation. I think there are over 700,000 homes in Massachusetts that still don't have power."

As of late Tuesday afternoon, 7,287 of 7,820 customers in Foxborough still had no power because of damage from Sunday's storm, according to National Grid, the company that serves the town.

It hopes to begin restoring power to parts of Foxborough on Wednesday with most customers back in service by Friday, National Grid spokeswoman Jackie Barry said.

She said the company received many calls from town residents who felt the Patriots were given priority.

"Customers in Foxborough and a lot of other customers are understandably upset," she said. "We know this is extremely unpleasant."

The stadium and its surrounding area were back in service because one of the substations that serves them, in the adjacent town of Wrentham, was not as badly damaged as the other one in Foxborough, Barry said.

The Patriots paid for expansion of the Wrentham substation after a power outage just before halftime of their 20-6 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 1996 AFC championship game, said James Nolan, senior vice president of operations, administration and finance for the stadium and the Patriots.

"This would guarantee that we would still have power if the feed was lost from one of the substations," he said.

The Foxborough substation serves most of the rest of the town, which has no backup substation.

Three generators returned power to part of the stadium by 5 p.m. Monday, and by 8:30 p.m., power was restored from the Wrentham substation, Nolan said.

Earlier in the day, the team went to another site to prepare for Thursday night's game.

"We were able to get through film yesterday," coach Bill Belichick said Tuesday. "(We're) trying to get back organized here at the stadium today."

The Giants have just two days between Monday night's 17-3 loss to the New York Jets, pushed back two days because of the storm, and Thursday's game.

Kraft said he understands that people without power are upset "because I didn't have power in my house (in Brookline) and I was here (Monday) when nothing worked and there was no air conditioning and no lights and it was very difficult. But I don't run the power company.

"So I try to talk about things I have some understanding of. We did bring in generators from our other businesses and now that power is up we've offered those generators to the community."

Until the Foxborough substation is repaired, the Patriots will be without a backup.

"I think everything is still sort of by a thread," Kraft said. "There's not backup systems and, please God, things continue to improve and everyone gets power in this state."