Robert Kraft is the Founder, Chairman and CEO of The Kraft Group, based in Foxborough, Mass. The Kraft Group is the holding company of the Kraft family's many businesses, with interests concentrated in six areas: manufacturing of paper and packaging, international distribution of forest products, sports and entertainment, real estate development, private equity investing and philanthropy.
Kraft is widely recognized as one of the most successful owners in professional sports. As Investor/Operator of the New England Revolution (Major League Soccer) and Chairman and CEO of the New England Patriots (National Football League), Kraft has helped change the culture of professional sports in New England by delivering a combined 10 conference titles and three league championships in the past 16 years. In addition to building two championship-driven franchises, Kraft has committed the resources necessary to create a world-class sports and entertainment complex with his privately-financed construction of Gillette Stadium, as well as the development of Patriot Place.
Kraft's long-standing support of soccer in the United States dates back to his efforts in the early 1990s to secure Foxborough as one of the nine host venues for the 1994 FIFA World Cup. The success of the 1994 World Cup ushered in a new era in New England sports and on June 6, 1995, the Kraft family became the founding Investor/Operator of the Revolution, joining Major League Soccer for its inaugural season in 1996. Since then, the Krafts have hosted the MLS Cup championship game in Foxborough three times, including the 2002 final between the Revolution and the Los Angeles Galaxy, which was played in front of the largest crowd in MLS Cup history (61,316).
The United States' Men's and Women's National soccer teams have also enjoyed tremendous support from the Kraft family and soccer fans throughout New England. In 2011, a crowd of 64,121 fans – a Men’s National Team record in New England – were in the Gillette Stadium stands as the U.S. faced defending FIFA World Cup champion Spain.
Since 1990, Foxborough has hosted 30 international matches involving U.S. teams at Foxboro Stadium (1990-2001) and Gillette Stadium (2002-present). The U.S. teams have enjoyed remarkable success in those games, compiling a combined record of 22-2-6. In addition to hosting games in the 1994 Men's World Cup, Foxborough was a host city for both the 1999 Women's World Cup and the 2003 Women's World Cup. In 1999, more than 50,000 fans watched the U.S. women defeat North Korea, 3-0, in the Women's World Cup.
Kraft is a lifelong New England sports fan who began attending Boston Patriots games during their infancy in the 1960s. When the franchise moved to Foxborough in 1971, he purchased season tickets for his family, an account he maintained for the next 23 years before purchasing the team in 1994.
The Kraft family has built the Patriots into one of professional sports' model organizations. Since purchasing the team in 1994, the Patriots have won more games (212), including more playoff games (19), more conference championships (6) and more Super Bowls (3) than any other team in the NFL. The Patriots also own two records for the longest consecutive win streaks in NFL history with 21 straight victories (including playoff games) and 10 straight playoff wins. Since 2001, the Patriots’ .761 regular season winning percentage is not just the highest in the NFL, but is the highest among any team in the five largest professional sports leagues in the U.S. (including MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL and NHL).
Kraft began his business career with the Rand-Whitney Group, Inc. of Worcester, Mass., a company that converted paper into packaging for various industries. He later acquired the company. In 1972, he founded International Forest Products, a trader of paper commodities that now does business in more than 90 countries. Together, Rand-Whitney and International Forest Products comprise one of the largest privately-owned paper and packaging companies in the United States. The Kraft Group's holdings include the Rand-Whitney Group, Rand-Whitney Containerboard, International Forest Products, the New England Patriots, the New England Revolution, Gillette Stadium, Patriot Place and a portfolio of more than 30 private equity investments.
A native of Brookline, Mass., Kraft attended public schools before matriculating to Columbia on an academic scholarship. Upon graduation, he received a fellowship to Harvard Business School, where he earned a master's degree in business administration.
Kraft serves on the board of directors for Viacom. He is also on the executive committee of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where he established the Robert K. Kraft Family Blood Donor Center. He is a trustee emeritus atColumbia and is a trustee of Boston College. He has also received honorary degrees from several colleges and universities. The Theodore Roosevelt Award, which is presented annually to a distinguished citizen of national reputation with outstanding accomplishments, and his induction into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences are among two of the many esteemed honors and awards that he has received.
Over the past four decades, the Kraft family has been one of New England's most philanthropic families, donating over $100 million dollars in support of local charities and civic affairs. The Krafts recently pledged $20 million to Partners HealthCare to launch the Kraft Family National Center for Leadership and Training in Community Health, an initiative designed to improve access to quality healthcare at community health centers throughout New England. In Foxborough, a $1 million donation by the Krafts helped fund the Kraft Family Center at the local branch of the YMCA, which was part of an expansion project that tripled the size of the center.