The New England Patriots have become the latest NFL American football team to confirm how they plan to accommodate fans for the 2020 season, stating they expect to operate Gillette Stadium at 20% capacity.

Although admitting there is still much to be decided, with state and local approvals required before any fans are permitted inside the building, the Patriots have informed ticket holders of some preliminary protocols they can expect if they visit Gillette Stadium in 2020.

Pending state and local approval, should Gillette Stadium be allowed to have fans in the stands this season, it is expected to host about 20% of its total capacity of 65,878, which equates to around 13,176.

The Patriots said: “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.

“Although game days will look different this year as a result of the many safety precautions being implemented, the Patriots organisation is committed to delivering a positive experience for all who attend.”

Recognising that “some flexibility” will be required by fans who attend games in these “unique circumstances”, the Patriots also announced that parking for 2020 home games will be free of charge in all Gillette Stadium parking lots. Additionally, walk-up sales at the Patriots ticket office will be suspended, and all tickets will be mobile.

Patriots Putnam Club and Season Ticket Members will have the first opportunity to purchase individual game tickets if fans are allowed, and any remaining ticket inventory will go on-sale to the general public once the member process is complete.

The Baltimore Ravens last week became the first team in the league to specify its intended attendance cap if fans are allowed at games during the 2020 season, with the Jacksonville Jaguars following suit.

The Ravens’ M&T Bank Stadium’s expected capacity would be fewer than 14,000 if fans are permitted into venues at all when the season gets underway in September. M&T Bank Stadium’s usual capacity is 71,000 and the capped figure is based on social distancing guidelines and fan safety protocols developed by the NFL, health experts and government officials.

The NFL last month approved a measure to restrict stadium capacities for the 2020 season to aid the safe staging of games amid COVID-19, in what was interpreted as a potential new sponsorship opportunity for teams.

According to multiple reports, the League signed off on the move that will theoretically limit player and coaching staff exposure to the virus while they’re on the sidelines by preventing teams from having fans in the first six to eight rows of seating in every stadium, including on-field suites.

Image: Gillette Stadium