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Local Business Owners Anticipate Largest Patriots Crowd of Season for Sunday's AFC Championship Game

Local business owners on Route 1 and at Patriot Place are again gearing up for a weekend full of football as nearly 70,000 fans will travel to Foxborough Sunday to watch the New England Patriots take on the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game.

The New England Patriots are back in the AFC Championship Game, meaning the team will have hosted two NFL playoff games in Foxborough for the second consecutive season, which is great news for local businesses.

“Our phones have been ringing off the hook,” said Ron Young, owner of the Lafayette House on Route 1 in Foxborough. “Last weekend [versus the Houston Texans] it was a little warmer out, people were saying, ‘Oh, it’s 50 degrees out in January, I can’t believe this weather.’ This weekend, they’re going to say ‘It’s not 50 degrees out, can you believe this weather?’”

Young added the later start time of Sunday's AFC Championship Game - Patriots kick-off against the Baltimore Ravens at 6:30 p.m. - compared to last weekend will make everybody busy along the Route 1 corridor because there will be less people tailgating.

Dan Barros, a manager at the CBS Scene at Patriot Place said the establishment is gearing up for an extremely heavy crowd.

“We’re actually expecting, since it’s probably the biggest game of the year, we’ll have the biggest turnout of the year," Barros said. "All of our employees, 135, are on for the day. It’s all hands on deck.”

John Lightizer of the Red Rooster on Route 1 in Wrentham said he expects a good day of business despite being miles away from the stadium.

“Football season in general is good for business,” he said. “This week should be pretty good, everyone’s going to be coming before the game and we’ll definitely have some late night traffic after.”

Foxborough hotels are also expecting an increase in business this weekend. America’s Best Value Inn and the Gaard Hotel on Route 1 are both completely booked. As of Friday, the Renaissance Hotel and Spa at Patriot Place still had rooms available starting at about $800 per room.

Nancy Cowles, general manager of Walpole's British Beer Company, said the BBC’s location on Route 1 is perfect for pregame activities, because the traffic to the game doesn’t start at that area of the road.

“It’s not bad traffic wise, typically traffic starts by the 95 exit there, we’re in that area right before it starts to get bad,” she said. “But typically we end up with a pretty full bar.”

Last week, some local business owners said they look forward to game days in Foxborough because of the added business and parking revenue they receive from tailgaters. In the playoffs, most private lots raise fees to $60 per parking space, according to Young. Click here to read more on local business owners cashing in on playoff football in Foxborough.

Patriots playoff games at Gillette Stadium net the town roughly $100,000 apiece, which means the over the past two seasons, the town wil have collected roughly $400,000 from New England's playoff success.

Foxborough finance director Randy Scollins told NECN this week that it's always great when Foxborough hosts 70,000 people because of the added it business it provides to local merchants, gas stations, restaurants and bars.

"Under a deal negotiated with the Patriots when owner Robert Kraft agreed to build Gillette Stadium, instead of conventional property taxes, the stadium makes payments in lieu of taxes pegged to how many events are held each year and how many people attend," Scollins told NECN. "It's a great deal for the town, from my perspective. ... With payment in lieu of taxes, ticket fees on every event that they have there, the stadium makes out, the stadium ownership, and then the town makes out as well, so the more events they have the better it is for the town."

To view NECN's report in its entirety, click here.

In addition to in lieu of taxes payments, the town also collects 0.75 percent local meals tax on all meals and beverages sold at restaurants at and around Patriot Place as well as Gillette Stadium.

As for predictions, several local business owners sounded off on how they each see Sunday's game going:

Lightizer said he expects a big win for New England on Sunday.

“38-17,” he said. “I don’t see them having any problem. I’m already booking flights for the Super Bowl.”

Young said he’s a little more tentative, and is seriously worried about fumbles, interceptions and turnovers.

“There’s an NFL statistic that states if you have three of them the likelihood of winning drops so low it’s unbelievable,” he said. “They just have to control the ball… During the Ravens game last week, everyone in that game was all over that ball trying to create a fumble.”

Barros said he's more than confident the Scene will host another Super Bowl party.

“I have full faith in the Pats, they’ve been in this situation before,” he said. “The team’s really focused, I think we’ll be able to take it to the Super Bowl.”

Cowles said she’s a huge fan and will be rooting for New England all the way, thinks they need to step up their game for Sunday.

“They need to play better than they did last week if they want to win this week,” she said.

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