Buffalo Bills fans are known for their wild tailgates, but for this season's home opener they may be stopped from throwing each other off tables and lighting things on fire. With the Bills off to a 2-0 start, officials in the area are worried the scene may be even crazier than normal and are taking precautions at New Era Field. For Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals, the stadium will be equipped with 300 law enforcement personnel and 300 private security personal in an attempt to contain the crazy.
The Orchard Park area, where the stadium sits, is also planning to increase patrols on the road for the game.
Bills vice president of operations and guest experience Andy Major says that the efforts to control the fans and increase stadium safety is getting better, but there is room for improvement.
"Not that long ago, we averaged 30 (in-stadium) arrests per game and 140 ejections a game," he told The Buffalo News. "Last year we averaged three arrests and 46 ejections a game. We're not perfect. We know that.
Local police do not believe the majority of fans cause a disturbance, but that rather a small population tends to get out of hand.
"A small amount of fans will be irresponsible and drink too much. There's always a few knuckleheads out there who will make it bad for the families," Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard said.
Bills officials met up with Howard and Orchard Park Police Chief E. Joseph Wehrfritz and decided on a few stadium policy changes. The changes include enforcing the open container laws on roads surrounding the stadium and a loaning a SkyWatch surveillance tower system to the stadium, courtesy of the Buffalo Police Department.
They will be paying particularly close attention to the bus lots, because that is the main spot for fans to jump off vehicles and onto tables that are set on fire. Videos of Bills fans doing stunts like that frequently go viral.
The Bills are increasing the permits for bus and limousine parking and any vehicle that shows up without a permit will be turned away. Stadium lots hold 10,000 vehicles but most fans have pregame celebrations on private lots and in other neighborhoods.
The main message for fans is, according to Major, is this:
"We want fans to have fun and to be safe. Don't do silly things in the stadium – making the experience for others fans a negative one – or you will be ejected."