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Patriots detail plans for reduced seating

Fans at Gillette Stadium in Massachusetts last season. The NFL's New England Patriots will allow attendance up to 20 per cent of stadium capacity in 2020, if permitted by local health authorities. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The New England Patriots became the latest National Football League team to specify plans for reduced seating during the 2020 season, saying it will cap attendance at about 20 percent of Gillette Stadium capacity due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Following the lead of the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars, the Patriots said they will similarly curtail its seating, pending approval from state and local health authorities. Ticketed fans at Gillette Stadium, should they be allowed to attend, will be arranged in blocks of 10 seats or less and distanced from other blocks.

“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.

Gillette Stadium’s capacity is 65,878, and a fifth of that would represent 13,176.

In addition to the overall attendance restrictions, all NFL teams will tarp off the lower rows of seating at their stadiums. The move will create additional distance between any attending fans and players on the sideline, and also create additional sponsorship inventory teams can use to generate revenue.

Like many other NFL teams, the Patriots are allowing season ticket holders to skip the 2020 season with no impact on their future seating location or seniority with the team. Those season ticket holders will be given first opportunity for an individual game tickets the Patriots will be allowed to sell for this year. 

The Philadelphia Eagles, meanwhile, likely will not be allowed to have any attending fans at Lincoln Financial Field. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that city officials have indicated to both the Eagles and Major League Baseball’s Philadelphia Phillies their expectations to not have attending fans this year for the teams’ home games.

“I do think that games can be played with the kind of safety precautions that they’re proposing,” said Thomas Farley, City of Philadelphia health commissioner, to the Inquirer. “I do not think that they can have spectators at those games. There’s no way for them to be safe having a crowd there.”

Such a stance would fall in line with NFL guidance that decisions on individual team attendance this season would fundamentally involve input from local health authorities.

Philadelphia has also put a moratorium through February 20201 on all large-scale events in the city requiring public permits.