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Coronavirus: Patriots give at-risk season ticket holders the option to skip the 2020 NFL season

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Houston Texans v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The NFL’s preparations for the 2020 season are underway, but how it will eventually look like in light of the ongoing Coronavirus crisis remains anyone’s guess at the moment. Fact is, however, that the league is still planning to have its teams report to training camp in late July with the regular season being kicked off seven weeks later.

And if a recent letter sent from the New England Patriots to their season ticket holders is any indication, the plan is to have fans in the stands once that kickoff happens.

“We remain optimistic for the return of football and we are preparing to play each home game as scheduled in front of our Season Ticket Members this fall,” the team’s letter reads. “We will do so in full compliance with the NFL and all government regulations and will rely on the advice of medical and public health professionals to maintain the safety of our fans, players, and personnel.”

Nevertheless, the Patriots have built some precautionary measures into their ticketing policy for this upcoming season: they are allowing season ticket holders to opt out of this year’s slate “if because of age or an underlying health condition [they] are in a population the CDC has identified as being at higher risk of illness from COVID-19 and [they] have decided now that you prefer not to use your tickets for the 2020 season.”

Likewise, those seats will be protected for the upcoming season and effectively allow at-risk holders to simply skip this year and get either a refund or credit. They would still retain their rights for their seat or seats in 2021 and beyond.

Under normal circumstances, fans who cancel their season ticket subscription lose out on a chance to repurchase them the following year. Instead, a member of the waiting list would be able to take over the vacant seat(s). That waiting list is quite a long one in New England, by the way: while no official numbers have been released by the organization, the belief is that upwards of 60,000 people are currently on it. The Patriots’ Gillette Stadium, for comparison, holds 65,878 spectators.

Given the current situation, however, the team opted to adapt its ticketing rules and procedures. Invoices are also due later: while originally scheduled for the end of March, season ticket holders now have until June 30 to make a decision for the upcoming season.