THE NEW NORM FOR THE BILLS HOME OPENER, 2016/17 SEASON.
Buffalo, NY – Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard and Andy Major, Vice President of Operations and Guest Services for the Buffalo Bills, announced today the new normal for Buffalo Bills home games.
The Erie County Sheriff’s Office is beginning its fourth year as the lead law enforcement agency for New Era Field and the Buffalo Bills. The detail and responsibilities have grown and evolved into what guests will see at all home games.
Fans will see an enhanced security presence, walk-through metal detectors, a sold-out Camper Lot, Food Truck Row (Parking Lot 4), Club Buffalo Bills (Field House activities), and a new look and feel at New Era Field all in an effort to keep fans safe and enhance their Fan Experience.
The Erie County Sheriff’s Office, the Buffalo Bills, and the National Football League continually review and analyze the best practices for security and game day operations, and safety and security measures for 2016 have been further enhanced. Fans will see uniformed SWAT Team members, additional canine, units and additional specialized Sheriff’s personnel on game days. In addition, the Bills will still employ private security firms, and there will be undercover security teams roaming the parking lots and inside the stadium assisting with the proactive identification and resolution of potential fan behavior or safety related issues.
Sheriff Timothy Howard explains, “My office had many of the same assets and personnel deployed at previous games but after the devastating terrorist attacks in Paris, we honed the special services’ role and responsibilities to enable these units to react quicker to an incident.”
The Bills have also added walk-through metal detectors at all the entry gates.
Andy Major states, “In concert with the NFL’s Best Practices, the Bills added walk-through metal detectors at all gates to further enhance the Fan Experience which will result in a safer and more efficient gate entry process for fans.”
At the gates, fans should be prepared to remove their cell phones, cameras, and glasses cases before they get to the front of the line. Fans do not need to remove their keys, wallets or loose change. Fans are still encouraged to arrive at the gates at least one hour prior to kickoff. Gates open 90 minutes prior to kickoff.
In addition to the redefining of the special services’ role, the Erie County Sheriff’s Office has increased its patrols in the New Era Field parking lots and traffic posts surrounding the stadium.
Sheriff Howard states, “The same traffic patterns will remain in effect before and after the game which include stopping through traffic on Abbott Road about five hours before game time while allowing vehicle traffic on sections of Abbott to allow for access to Bills and private lots. Also, after the game traffic on Big Tree Road (Route 20A) will be restricted to eastbound travel only to help for a more efficient and safer egress for fans.”
Deputies assigned to the Bills parking lots are directed to encourage fans to tailgate responsibly and follow the rules, including no glass bottles and no binge drinking. Fans can still drink responsibly, grill food, play football catch, and have a fun time cheering on their hometown team; the Sheriff and Bills simply ask fans to do so responsibly. Individuals who choose to be irresponsible and affect the enjoyment of other fans will be subject to ejection, a ticket, and/or arrest.
The Bills announced that the Camper Lot is sold out for the first four games. Camper Lot passes are now required to be purchased from the Bills in advance for the home games, and local law enforcement agencies and the team expect to see a safer and more efficient process for camper arrival and parking.
Since the partnership between the Buffalo Bills and the Erie County Sheriff’s Office arrests and ejections inside the stadium have drastically decreased, and in 2015 the team averaged an all-time team record low number of arrests (three) and ejections (58) per game.
“We have seen our fan incident numbers at Bills games drastically decrease over the past four seasons,” Andy Major explains, “while also experiencing a direct increase in positive Fan Experiences, secret-shopper program scores, and fan survey numbers. We still have room for improvement, but it is encouraging to hear from fans - especially Season Ticket Members - and staff that they have seen a change at Bills games, that they want a better atmosphere for their family, friends and themselves, and that they appreciate the collaborative efforts that the Sheriff and everyone involved have made to help improve the game day atmosphere at New Era Field.”
The Erie County Sheriff’s Office and the Buffalo Bills jointly support the Designated Driver Program and encourage everyone to be responsible and designate someone in the group to be the designated driver. Guest can register at any Guest Services Booth and special designated Bills/Bud Light Good Sport.
Fans are urged to practice responsible tailgating and positive fan behavior, and to support the team’s efforts off the field as much as their passionate support of the team on the field.
“The Bills are ready for prime time, the sheriff’s office is ready for prime time, we need our fans to be ready too,” said Sheriff Howard.