New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has another honor to his name. He’s now the recipient of Sports Business Journal’s Lifetime Achievement Award for 2022. He was chosen for many reasons, including his vision and philanthropic efforts, along with his strong reputation as an entrepreneur. Kraft has brought big changes to football throughout his time as a team owner, and his focus on the development of a franchise of world-class proportions has not gone unnoticed.
Sports Business Journal publisher and executive editor Abe Madkour is very happy to honor Kraft with the award. He was quoted as saying, “Not only has Robert Kraft built a world-class franchise with Kraft Sports Group, he’s developed close, unique relationships across a world far wider than football, and in doing so, has made himself and fellow NFL owners that much more powerful and successful.”
That’s worth talking about, since sports ownership has generally always provided an additional opportunity to influence culture and the business world on a wider scale. Robert Kraft isn’t just an entrepreneur, visionary, and sports team owner, though. He’s one of the owners who chose a team, worked hard to get it, and has held onto it and continued to develop it over time. He purchased the Patriots team back in 1994, using the leverage of owning the stadium where they played and the parking lot around it.
A Loyal Patriots Fan Makes It Big
Kraft was a loyal Patriots fan for many years before purchasing the team. He was a season-ticket holder back in 1985, and decided he wanted to be more than just another person in the stands. He saw the potential the team had, and what could be done to transform it into a team that was among the best in the NFL. So he started small, by buying the parking lots around the stadium. That led him to eventually purchase the stadium where the team played its home games and finally, the team itself.
With his new-found influence at the time, and the opportunities that influence presented in the sports and business worlds, Robert Kraft took on a major role in the founding of Major League Soccer. He also became one of the most influential voices in the NFL, and turned the Patriots team into a dynasty to be reckoned with. New England Patriots Charitable Foundation has since given more than $800 million to help a number of people and causes that Kraft and the team deem important.
Robert Kraft has built considerable wealth during his time as a team owner, but the SBJ announcement of his lifetime achievement award notes that he has done more than just build and spend his wealth. He has also put his time and energy, as well as the fame he has developed, into making real change in the team, in the NFL, and throughout the sports and business worlds. The 2022 Sports Business Awards where Kraft will be honored take place on May 18th in New York City.
Developing a Dynasty Made Kraft a Household Name
The personal investment that Robert Kraft made in the New England Patriots when he purchased the team was the beginning of something amazing for fans and teammates alike. It was clear that Kraft saw the potential of his newly acquired sports team, even though the Patriots had a terrible record on the field when Kraft first bought them. Within the first few years of his ownership, he took them from a losing team to one that was making the playoffs, winning games, and even made their way to the Super Bowl.
With the higher season ticket sales and much more interest in the team, local stations started carrying the games instead of using blackout restrictions to avoid televising them. The fans were energized, and so was the team. For the first time, they saw that there was real potential for them and that they could be a winning team that was valued and appreciated by the people who cheered for them.
In 2000, with the hiring of Bill Belichick and the drafting of Tom Brady, Robert Kraft really set the dynasty in motion. That combination erased any doubts that others had about the team’s performance and completed changed the game for the Patriots. They went from a team that few people supported or paid any attention to before Kraft purchased them, to the team in the NFL when it came to who to fear and who to beat.
Kraft is in his 80s now, but he’s still just as passionate about his team and what it can offer to the NFL. He has worked tirelessly to make sure it’s a franchise people can support and believe in, and that fans can be proud to cheer for. The SBJ Lifetime Achievement Award shows that his efforts have not gone unnoticed.