Patriot fans have arrived for Super Bowl LII

Staff photo by TOM KING Merimack Ten Pin Bowling Center owner Crystal Grover, visiting the Patriots "Not Done Network" headquarters in Bloomington, Minn., is ready for her sixth Super Bowl.

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Saturday is always a busy day for local high school bowling at Merrimack Ten Pin Bowling Center.

So where else would alley owner Crystal Grover be?

Why, at the Super Bowl of course. On Saturday she and a lot of other fans of both teams were wandering through the Mall of America, while others were sure to be at the NFL Live fan gatherings in downtown Minneapolis.

“This will be my sixth,” said Grover, who is originally from Londonderry, and tries to go to all the Patriots Super Bowls if she can. She, like most fans, arrived Friday. Many at the Mall of America were visiting the area designated for the Patriots on line “Not Done Network”.

“I’m really enjoying it,” she said, adding her seats at U.S. Bank Stadium are on the Patriots bench side of the field. “But not loving (the cold weather).” As for the Mall of America, she was in awe. “It’s beautiful,” she said.

Paul Lacourciere has been a longtime Patriots fan, and used to live in Nashua during the 1970s, and also in Hampton after that. He now lives in Vero Beach, Fla. This is his and his fifth Super Bowl, but it’s supposed to be a secret from family members who currently resides in Manchester. Except his wife Mary, of course, who is with him here. “We didn’t tell our family that we were coming, Mary Lacourciere said.

Lacourciere, who was a Patriot season ticket holder for over 20 years, was at the first one the franchise won in New Orleans in 2002, then their win over Carolina in Houston two years later, and then took his wife to the two Giant losses.

“We didn’t go to the last two,” he said. “But with this, I said, ‘I have the feeling it’s the end of an era. So I think it’s time to go. So we came to this one. This is (Mary’s) third chance.”

As for the cold weather, Lacourciere said he remembers the old Foxboro Stadium. “I remember those aluminum benches were really cold,” he said. “And I was there for the coldest game (playoff win over Tennessee in 2003).

“So I’m glad we’re indoors.”

Darlene Knapp lives in Andover, Mass. but works in Portsmouth, is here with her family, as her brother from the Minneapolis area got her tickets, and is floored by the experience.

“It’s been great,” she said. “And the mall is amazing. It’s an experience in itself. Can’t wait for the game.”