Robert Kraft is the CEO, chairman, and founder of Kraft Group, the operator of the New England Revolution, and the CEO of the New England Patriots. It’s the Kraft Group that takes charge of its many ventures, and the organization is expected to be as flexible as it is professional. With so many assets in his portfolio, Kraft has managed to stretch his business interests into a variety of industries, including entertainment, paper and packaging, private equity investment, and real estate. However, one of Kraft’s major personal interests is in soccer. We’ll look at the history of his career, and how he ended up at the helm of the New England team.
A Championship Culture
Kraft has changed New England in ways that people could never have predicted before he came to Jo. Before he put in the winning bid, his counterparts were talking about selling the team to another state. He’s delivered on his promises from the very beginning of his tenure in the 1990s.
With 13 conference titles and five league championship wins between his soccer and football team, he’s managed to build a franchise with some exceptionally high expectations. It doesn’t scare someone like Robert Kraft. All he cares about is doing everything he can to honor a world that he fell in love with as a young boy. Sports was so much more than an outlet for him, it was a way of life.
People know him for taking a serious stake in his businesses. In 1985, he bought a patch of land that would eventually turn into Gillette Stadium. Now home to everything from concerts to Revolution face-offs, the stadium is a landmark in the city that can never be replaced. His interest in and support of soccer stretches back to the early 1990s, when he fought for Foxboro Stadium to be one of the venues used in the 1994 FIFA World Cup. The success of the tournament led New England to start taking a much bigger interest in soccer, and not long after, the Kraft family became the investor/operator of the Revolution in 1995.
Leadership at Its Finest
The Revolution has now played in the MLS Cup five times, and the team has titles in both the US Open Cup and SuperLiga. Foxborough was the central city for three MLS Cup matches, including the final between the Revolution and LA Galaxy played in front of more than 60,000 people — the largest crowd in postseason history for the MLS title in 2002.
Kraft, his family, and fans everywhere have also supported the Men’s and Women’s National teams in New England. Robert Kraft has hosted more than 30 international matches between Foxboro Stadium and Gillette Stadium. Foxborough was also the host city for the Women’s World Cup in both 1999 and 2003. In the latter event, 50,000 people watched as the US National Team took down North Korea. In 2011, the Men’s National Team won against Spain, listening to a crowd of more than 64,000 people cheer.
Kraft at Work
Robert Kraft hails from Brookline, Massachusetts, and he attended public schools before heading off to Columbia University on a scholarship. From there, he got his MBA at Harvard Business School. He started his career at the Rand-Whitney Group, Inc. in Worcester and later acquired the company. He also founded International Forest Products, a company that now does business in dozens of countries around the world. He may be best known for being the owner of the Patriots, but the two companies in his portfolio represent the biggest privately owned packaging and paper company in the US.
Kraft is also pleased to sit on the board of directors for several organizations in the arts, including Apollo Global Management and Apollo Theater. He’s on the exec committee at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a facility that now houses the Robert K. Kraft Family Blood Donor Center.
Robert Kraft has also received numerous accolades and awards, such as the Theodore Roosevelt Award. He’s a proud member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame. Most recently, he received an honorary degree from Yeshiva University in New York City, a personal favorite of his considering the work he’s done to combat prejudice against the Jewish community.
Finally, Kraft and his family have worked hard to earn a reputation as philanthropists. Kraft has donated millions of dollars to civic affairs, charitable organizations, and health care. In 2011, they pledged $25 million to launch the Kraft Center for Community Health through Partners Healthcare. They also notably gave $20 million to Harvard to advance precision medicine. Every dollar he spends on his communities is as much a commitment to them as it is to his pro teams.