Robert Kraft is not only known as a shrewd and strategic businessman, but also as the Chief Executive Officer of the New England Patriots of the NFL and the New England Revolution of the MLS. With purchases like these, Kraft has secured his spot on the list of richest businessman in sports with a net worth of $4.8 billion.
Kraft’s first sports-related venture was the Boston Lobsters, a team in Billie Jean King’s World Team Tennis (WTT) league. He bought the Lobsters with several partners in 1975, but the tennis team folded in 1978 when the original WTT disbanded.
In 1985 he leased, with an option to buy, a large tract of land in suburban Foxborough, Massachusetts, that surrounded Sullivan Stadium (later Foxboro Stadium), the home of the New England Patriots.
In 1988, together with a partner whose interest he later bought out, he purchased the stadium. He finally acquired the team in January 1994, paying $172 million, the highest price for an NFL team up to that time.
The seller, James Busch Orthwein, had bought the Patriots in 1992 with the intention of moving them to St. Louis but was thwarted when Kraft refused to allow him to buy the team out of its stadium lease.
Since Kraft took over the Patriots, every home game has been sold out, and in 2009 the franchise was valued for over $1.3 billion – the third-highest valuation in the NFL.
This is no surprise because the team has qualified for the playoffs 19 times since 1994, thanks to Kraft, and even went on to claim their fifth Super Bowl victory under his direction.
Love him or hate him, you can’t help but be impressed with the success that Kraft was able to bring to the New England Patriots – and that’s what makes him a legend.