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Will focus be on the field or in the lots for Bills home opener?

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Avery Schneider
/
WBFO News

Will coverage of Buffalo Bills games be focused on the exploits of players on the field, or on drunken fans in the parking lots outside the stadium this season? Tonight's home-opener against the New York Jets is an opportunity to find out.

The reputation of last season’s fan-base was marred by the caught-on-camera exploits of proverbial “bad apples,” with videos of drunken stunts and public indecency quickly making their way to websites like Deadspin, Buzzfeed, and YouTube for millions to see.

Bills Vice President for Operations and Guest Experience Andy Major said the incidents took place in corporate and privately-owned lots around the Town of Orchard Park. He said, unfortunately, the Bills can’t control everything that happens in lots they don’t own.

“We’d love to see some of the things in the neighborhood lots not happen,” said Major. “But as far as what the Bills control, we have great partners with the security teams, we have great partner with the Sheriff. We work very closely with the Orchard Park Police Department, and I think we’re trying to address as much as we can from the Buffalo Bills standpoint.”

Major said owners of the hundreds of lots outside of New Era Field are appreciative of plans with local law enforcement to keep their property safe and orderly – something the Bills are happy to help with. He also pointed out that the vast majority of the lots go without incident on game-days.

“We’re probably only talking about a handful of lots where some of these viral videos we’ve seen in the region have happened,” said Major.

The Bills regularly receive feedback from fans and visitors about their experience in Bills-owned lots. When something is working well, team officials share the information with law enforcement.

Major and Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard noted that negative fan behavior has been on a down-slope, with game-day arrests cut in half between 2013 and 2015.

“We’re very encouraged about the direction of fan behavior,” said Major. “And we think fans are also encouraged, and hopefully we can keep that momentum going.”

Fans are being reminded to arrive at least an hour ahead of kick-off, which starts at 8:25 p.m. on Thursday. For those arriving even earlier, Howard is asking that they be mindful of school bus activity in the neighborhoods around New Era Field.

Avery began his broadcasting career as a disc jockey for WRUB, the University at Buffalo’s student-run radio station.
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