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In letter to season ticket-holders, Patriots are upbeat on chances of fans’ return

The Patriots played to an empty house in Foxborough last season.
The Patriots played to an empty house in Foxborough last season.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

The Patriots not only are very optimistic that fans will be allowed into Gillette Stadium next season, they are hopeful that they can get all 65,878 seats filled.

In a letter to season ticket-holders announcing that they would extend the renewal deadline to June 1, the Patriots also said they are waiting for more clarity “on the decisions required to allow” fans to return to Gillette after they were shut out last season because of the pandemic.

The uncertainty about attendance led the team to extend the deadline as well as keep prices steady from the 2020 tickets that were fully refunded. Season ticket-holders usually have until the end of March to renew.

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For now, the state of Massachusetts is not allowing attendance at any sporting event until Phase 4 of the reopening plan, which is slated to begin whenever the prevalence of effective vaccines and treatments allow the state to declare a “new normal.”

The list of open stadiums and attendance limits fluctuated from week to week during the NFL season depending on local conditions, but 20 of the 32 teams had fans in the stands, with capacities ranging from less than 5 percent to just over 30 percent.

Gillette Stadium is currently being used as a mass vaccination site for the state. Next season, it will host eight regular-season games, with the potential for a ninth if the league adopts a 17-game schedule as expected.

The Patriots’ season-ticket base has been sold out since 1994, according to the team’s website.

“We have missed seeing you, connecting with you and most importantly hosting you at Patriots games,” the letter said, before pointing out what has led to the hopefulness about the fans’ return.

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“The success of sporting events at other large outdoor venues across the country — most recently Super Bowl LV, which safely hosted nearly 25,000 fans — gives us great assurance in our reopening plan, as we continue to work with state and local agencies to further our preparations.”

The club detailed several changes that will greet fans.

One is “a new and larger South end zone HD video board,” while the rest revolve around assorted health and safety protocols meant to assure a safe experience, including a permanent move to mobile ticketing and cashless payments for all concessions and merchandise inside the stadium.

The food and beverage experience will be “completely reimagined” to allow for better traffic flow and “a comfortable fan environment,” the team said.


Michael Silverman can be reached at michael.silverman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeSilvermanBB.