For the first time since summer 2019, the New England Patriots are inviting fans to Gillette Stadium to watch open training camp sessions, and fans are understandably excited.

According to, open training camps on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium will be Wednesday July 28 through Saturday July 31, plus an in-stadium practice on Tuesday August 10. All with exact times to be decided soon.

Presumably, weather and other stadium events will factor into the time of day practices are held, but the team says it will keep fans updated through the website as well as all social media outlets. So now is definitely time to follow the team on their socials, if you aren't already.

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Though it may not seem that exciting, I can tell you from experience that attending a training camp is surprisingly fun. It's your chance to see the team work things out, to be really up close with players and coaches in a way you can't be at a game in the stadium. Things are a lot quieter, a lot more relaxed and the real fans are there watching right along with you.

But you do need to be prepared. These camps are open to the public and can fill up fast. Plus, they are out in the open fields with lots of sunshine. So here are some of my tips to making the most of your open training camp experience:

Take the Day Out of Work, If You Can

Sure, there is a training camp session on a Saturday, but that is for sure going to get crazy busy. If you can swing going on a weekday, do it. I'd say aim for Thursday, July 29. The first day will be full due to excitement and Friday is easy to take off for a long weekend, so my bet is Thursday is the quietest day of camp.

Get There Early

They haven't announced the times just yet, but you already know you'll want to be early. Beating the crowd for a good seat is definitely the way to go here – and by good seat, I suggest staking out a space on the grassy hills along the sides of the field. If those are still an option this year, get there fast. Yes, the bleachers are closer to the players, but the hill is more comfortable, has a few trees for shade, and allows you to spread out a bit.

Wear Sunscreen and Bring Something to Give You Shade

Late July sunshine can give you a sunburn in about 15 minutes, and you are definitely spending more time than that watching training camp. An umbrella or small pop-up tent (if you sit in the grass) will give you some much desired shade. Of course, you also want a strong SPF if you are sitting in the sun for a few hours.

Pack Snacks and Drinks

Yes, you are at Gillette and there are restaurants and retail shops everywhere, but if you want to just sit and watch for awhile, bring yourself something to snack on, and absolutely bring plenty of water.

Bring Something to Get Signed

Sadly, this would have been my last piece of advice for first time training camp goers, but not this year. Typically, players walk along the edge of the crowd after practice is done and sign things for the fans. I was once next to a kid who had his hat signed by Tom Brady, who only signs for kids, by the way. This year, however, COVID-19 protocols are going to prevent that from happening. The good news is masks are optional, training camp sessions are free and it's all another step closer to getting back to normal.

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