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Patriots announce they will play their first two home games in front of empty stands

Related: Patriots announce plans for reduced capacity at Gillette Stadium in 2020

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Cleveland Browns v New England Patriots Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

The New England Patriots are scheduled to open their regular season on September 13 against the Miami Dolphins, but no fans will be in attendance for both that contest and the team’s Week 3 game versus the Las Vegas Raiders. Following consultation with the Massachusetts Reopening Advisory Board, the Patriots announced that they will not be permitted to host fans at their games throughout at least the month of September.

The club’s statement opens as follows:

Following consultation with the Massachusetts Reopening Advisory Board, Gillette Stadium officials learned today that we will not be permitted to host fans at any events through at least the end of September. As a result, the Patriots home opener on September 13 and the game on September 27, as well as the next three Revolution home matches on August 20, 29 and September 2, will be played without fans in attendance. We will communicate directly with our respective ticket holders regarding refunds.

The statement also reads that Gillette Stadium “will continue its preparations to safely host fans later this fall” and that the “health and safety of our players, coaches, staff, fans and surrounding community has and will continue to lead our efforts.”

The Patriots already presented plans last month that they would reduce capacity in their home stadium to around 20 percent pending local and state approval. At least for the first month of the season, however, it seems as if those plans were too ambitious. New England therefore now becomes the latest pro football team that will be playing in front of empty stands in light of the Coronavirus pandemic — even if just temporarily.

The Patriots’ next home game following the contests against Miami and Las Vegas will come in Week 5 versus the Denver Broncos. They are scheduled to host the Broncos on October 11th. If fans are allowed into Gillette Stadium for that game, they will be required to wear face coverings.