One of the greatest moments in New England Patriots franchise history is owed to a South Dakotan, but South Dakota is the only state that has yet to have a resident visit The Hall at Patriot Place, a first-of-its-kind sports and education experience in Massachusetts that is dedicated to the history of the Patriots.
"We reached our 49th state some time ago and have already had visitors from eight foreign countries, but still no South Dakota," said Bryan Morry, Executive Director of The Hall at Patriot Place. "We know Patriots fans in South Dakota would love to visit, but it's a long trip, so we decided to provide an incentive by offering a small prize."
In recognition of the milestone visit, The Hall at Patriot Place will award the first visitor with a valid South Dakota ID with a mini helmet autographed by Adam Vinatieri, the former Patriots kicker and three-time Super Bowl winner who hails from Rapid City and attended South Dakota State University in Brookings.
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Even without the unique prize, the hall is worth the trip. The two-story facility adjacent to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. contains 36,000 square feet of interactive exhibits and rare artifacts, including the Patriots' three Lombardi trophies. There is also an exhibit dedicated to Vinatieri.
On Jan. 19, 2002, Vinatieri made a 45-yard field goal through driving snow to send the Patriots into overtime against the Oakland Raiders in the divisional playoffs. The Patriots went on to beat the Raiders on a 23-yard kick by Vinatieri, launching them toward their first Super Bowl victory.
Among the signature exhibits at The Hall is one that allows visitors to relive Vinatieri's historic field goal. The interactive exhibit features a climate-controlled dome that drops in temperature upon entry, creating the effect of a snow globe, and displays a video presentation about Vinatieri's kick. There is also an interactive kicking exhibit where fans try to make the famous field goal themselves.