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Patriots ‘very optimistic’ fans will return for the 2021 season; extend season ticket renewal deadline

Related: One full Gillette Stadium has been vaccinated at the Patriots’ facility

NFL: SEP 27 Raiders at Patriots Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Like the vast majority of NFL teams, the New England Patriots were also unable to host any fans over the course of their 2020 season. Because of Coronavirus regulations in Massachusetts, the organization was forced to play its eight home games in front of empty seats — going 5-3 without a traditional home field advantage.

With the calendar already having turned to 2021 and the club starting to prepare for the upcoming season, however, the Patriots recently sent a letter to their season ticket holders expressing confidence that fans will be back at Gillette Stadium this fall. The letter also informed fans that the season ticket renewal deadline has been extended from March to June:

As we look ahead to the 2021 season, we are very optimistic that we will have fans in the stands and hopeful that we will be able to do so at full capacity. While we await greater clarity on the decisions required to allow for that reality, we understand the months ahead hold some degree of uncertainty for you as well. In an effort to alleviate some of that uncertainty, the 2021 Season Ticket Member Renewal Deadline has been extended to Tuesday, June 1 with the expectation that we will return to our normal payment schedule in future seasons. Importantly, ticket pricing for your membership did not change in 2021.

With the Patriots eliminated from playoff contention after finishing last season with a 7-9 record, Gillette Stadium was transformed into Massachusetts’ first mass Covid-19 vaccination site. Since its opening on January 14th, the facility has seen almost 100,000 vaccine doses administered. The symbolic milestone of 65,878 vaccinations — the stadium’s seating capacity — was reached last week.

Behind the scenes, however, the Patriots are already preparing for fans to return. In order to do so in a secure manner, updates to the game-day experience have been announced as part of the letter sent to season ticket holders:

[T]he events of the last year have challenged us to rethink various elements of our game day operations. We have made several changes to the fan experience at Gillette Stadium in order to prioritize health, including a permanent move to mobile ticketing and the implementation of cashless payments across all concessions and merchandise locations inside the stadium.

The Patriots also informed fans that “several state-of-the-art renovations” have taken place, such as improving the video board in the South End Zone and “completely reimagin[ing]” food and beverage services. When fans will get to experience those changes remains to be seen — and how many of them will be in attendance once the stadium reopens — but the team is preparing for the 2021 season to see the return.

The NFL is expected to release its schedule for next season in early May, with New England hosting its first home game at one point in September.