The New England Patriots unveiled a plan Tuesday to fill about 20% of the seats at Gillette Stadium in the 2020 season, if fans are allowed to attend football games at all this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Patriots' announcement, made on their website, was also sent to ticket holders, the team said. It noted that the plan would need to be approved by officials in Massachusetts and Foxboro, and that it's not yet clear if NFL fans will be allowed in stadiums at all -- sports leagues across the world have taken different approaches, depending in part on how much the virus is spreading.
Other changes for the 2020 season include the suspension of in-person ticket sales at the stadium but free parking at stadium parking lots for fans who attend games at Gillette, the Patriots said, adding that all tickets will be mobile.
The Pats are set to open the season -- if it goes forward -- at home against the Miami Dolphins on Sept. 13.
For those fans who are let into Gillette Stadium, they can expect the following safety protocols, according to the team: "Ticketed parties will be asked to maintain physical distancing of at least six feet from other parties, tickets will be arranged in blocks of 10 seats or less, and the first eight rows of stadium seats will not be used. Additionally, face coverings will be required at all times inside the stadium to keep all attendees safe."
If fans are allowed to attend games, the Patriots are giving Patriots Putnam Club and season ticket holders the first chance to buy individual game tickets in 2020. If any tickets remain after that, they will then go on sale to the general public.
"Although game days will look different this year as a result of the many safety precautions being implemented, the Patriots organization is committed to delivering a positive experience for all who attend," the team said in a statement.
At the moment, Massachusetts is not allowing fans to attend professional sports games, though Gov. Charlie Baker is allowing games to take place, as long as the teams comply with their league's rules.