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New England Patriots, Revolution games to remain fanless

Fans will remain absent from New England Patriots NFL games and Major League Soccer’s New England Revolution matches for the remainder of their seasons as local authorities extended the ban on gatherings at large venues.

Officials at Gillette Stadium, which is the 65,878-capacity home to both franchises, revealed yesterday (Monday) that an Executive Order from the governor of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker, prohibiting large capacity venues from opening to the public will remain in force for the remainder of the 2020 sports seasons.

The NFL season will end in January 2021, while the MLS playoffs will end the campaign next month.

The order was first announced at the beginning of the season in August due to the coronavirus pandemic and Baker doubled down on his decision in September when the state allowed some indoor venues to reopen with limited capacity.

The state has now extended the ban amid fears of a second wave of COVID-19 in Massachusetts.

“Throughout the last several months, Gillette Stadium officials and the Kraft Sports + Entertainment organisation have worked diligently to develop a plan to safely host fans at a reduced capacity,” GilletteStadium officials said in a statement. “We have done so in collaboration with a team of infectious disease experts and the Massachusetts Reopening Advisory Board and feel confident in our plan, which complies with guidelines issued by the CDC, the National Football League and Major League Soccer.

“We understand that the advisory board, Governor Baker and Lt. Governor [Karyn] Polito made this decision with the health and safety of the community in mind. Still, we know that this decision will be disappointing to the friends and family members of our respective teams and countless Patriots and Revolution Season Ticket Members who were eager to attend games this season.”

Several NFL teams have welcomed fans back this season, with the Detroit Lions last week hosting a limited number of 500 fans at Ford Field for the first time this season. However, other teams join the Patriots in playing in front of empty stands, such as the San Francisco 49ers, whose fans remain banned from Levi’s Stadium despite state officials in California lifting restrictions on attendance.

Image: Art N. / CC BY 2.0 / Edited for size