On the heels of his franchise’s latest Super Bowl title, New England Patriots owner and five-time National Football League (NFL) champion Robert Kraft has announced that he will donate $6 million to a new regulation-sized American football stadium near Jerusalem.
“This isn’t a business trip. It’s something about spirituality,” said Kraft, who is currently visiting Israel, Jewish Business News reported Tuesday.
Set to open later this year, the stadium will be Israel’s first regulation-sized American football field and will serve the country’s growing interest in the sport. Currently, there are 1,350 active football players in Israel, with dozens of teams across the country.
According to Bezalel Friedman, director of the Israel Football League, the shortage of regulation-sized football stadiums has made it difficult to continue to grow the sport in the Jewish state. The goal is to build three additional fields in Israel during the next decade.
The Jerusalem football field will bear the Kraft family’s name and is being built in cooperation with the Jerusalem Foundation, Moriah – Jerusalem Development Corporation and Israel’s Sports Betting Authority, as well as with the help of Israel Football Association President Steve Leibowitz.
Meanwhile, a delegation of 11 NFL players will arrive in Israel Feb. 13 for a seven-day visit. The delegation, which includes Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett, is visiting as part of a campaign by Israel’s Ministry of Tourism to promote the country to Americans.
“I see great importance in the arrival of this delegation of NFL stars to Israel,” said Israeli Minister for Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy Gilad Erdan. “I have no doubt that their visit will be a powerful experience for them and I hope that, through their visit, they will get a balanced picture of Israel, the opposite from the false incitement campaign that is being waged against Israel around the world.”
The NFL players are slated to visit Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, the Dead Sea and Christian sites in the Galilee. They will also take part in an exhibition match with an Israeli football team.