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Bills, Erie County Sheriff discuss safety in advance of Sunday's home opener

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

The Buffalo Bills will host their first regular season game of the 2018 National Football League season this Sunday, when they face the Los Angeles Chargers at 1 p.m. Team officials and the Erie County Sheriff joined at New Era Field to discuss security measures in advance of the game.

Sheriff Timothy Howard says measures will be similar to those implemented during the Bills' preseason games. He encouraged fans to enjoy traditional tailgate parties but responsibly.

"Buffalo Bills parking lots are part of the stadium property," Howard said. "The Buffalo Bills' rules regarding what's acceptable fan behavior apply just in the parking lot, just as they do within the stadium property, with the exception of tobacco products."

Glass bottles of any kind, he stated, are off limits. Howard explained that if broken, the glass poses a risk to auto tires, people and even the horses who are utilized by the Sheriff's mounted patrols. 

Bills officials say they recorded a record-low number of fan-related incidents last season.

"Despite some of the viral videos and social media posts you see, with whatever you might see out there, our fans in general are very good," said Andy Major, Vice President of Operations and Guest Experience for the Bills. "They are very responsible and do have a good time. But we want to make sure that everyone understands we're going to hold those folks accountable, the few minority of fans that do some of those things out there in the community and on game day that we feel are unsafe."

Major says last year, there were problems with fan behavior in the bus lot and several buses were ejected from stadium grounds as a result. This year, bus lot permits will be sold in advance of games. 

"That gives us a lot more accountability from the fans that are buying the bus permits and that are using the bus transportation," Major said. "We have a good list of who's coming on game day. We've worked closely with a lot of the bus companies and agencies out there to formulate these policies."

The Erie County Sheriff's Office, meanwhile, encourages fans to follow their social media platforms on game days for live traffic updates, including road closures.

"Follow us on Twitter and we're doing live updates," said spokesman Scott Zylka. "For example, 'Abbott Road is now closed.' '20A traffic is now closed to westbound traffic,' those kinds of things, just to keep people updated who are not familiar with the game-day experience and traffic experience."

Thursday's event inside New Era Field's Dunn Tire Club also allowed the team and Delaware North Companies to showcase food items they will sell throughout the stadium this season. New concession items available to most fans  include Buffalo chicken wraps, corn dogs, fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, funnel cakes, apple logs with caramel sauce, a burger-fries-shake combo and Lloyd nachos and burritos.

Fans with access to club sections will be able to try out new items including meatball bombers, pretzels with marinara sauce, and footlong Polish, Italian and chicken sausages. Suite-level fans will be served chicken pot pies, Mediterranean spinach and Asian chicken noodle salads, pork sliders and gourmet popcorn and candy.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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