The Buffalo Bills are changing its tailgating policy and introducing a safe space in an attempt to stop fans from “embarrassing” team brass with dangerous behavior.
Over the last several years, it has become common to see viral videos every Sunday of Bills fans jumping off of buses, cars, trucks or anything in the air to put friends through a folding table, sometimes on fire.
Although the videos show extreme passion dripping from Bills fans’ lips in the form of beer, some fans get injured in the process. This prompted Andy Major, the team’s vice president of operations and guest experience to make changes.
It would make sense for Bills personnel to be glad that fans still show up with excitement on Sundays after putting a product on the field that has produced three winning seasons and one playoff berth since 2000, but apparently not.
“Our No. 1 concern as an organization is fan safety,” Major said. “When you’re seeing what was happening in the bus lot the last couple seasons, especially last year, it gets very concerning.”
In response to fan behavior and feedback from bus and limo companies, the Bills made changes to the Bus and Limo Parking Lot policy. The new policy doesn’t allow fans that travel to the game via bus or limo bus to tailgate near the vehicle. Instead, the fans can opt into tailgating at a “Tailgate Village.”
“Tailgate Village” will be provided by the Tailgate Guys, a company that partners will several NFL and college football teams to provide a safe and clean area for fans to tailgate in.
“It’s great. There is so much opportunity for responsible tailgating,” Major said. “Tailgate Village will be another safe and fun option for fans to enjoy the pregame atmosphere.”
In this safe space, partying will come at a price. Fans that decide to pay the price will receive a wristband granting access to Tailgate Village.
The prices are based on the number of people in each bus or limo bus and are as follows:
- 12 and up to 20 passengers – $300
- Up to 40 passengers – $600
- Up to 60 passengers – $900
Per person, with the max passengers per bus, each fan would owe $15.
Once in Tailgate Village, each group of fans will receive a tent, tables and chairs as well as help from Tailgate Guys to assist with setup. Music will be provided by a live DJ and appearances will be made by Billy Buffalo and the Bills Stampede.
Food and beverages will be available for purchase in the Tailgate Village. Fans will also have the option to bring their own food and beverages at no additional cost.
With the implementation of Tailgate Village, fans will be separated from each other. In addition to needing a ticket to the game, a fan will need a wristband to access the village. Fans that don’t travel to the game in a bus won’t be able to tailgate in the village.
“The concern was from a fan-safety standpoint, and trying to enhance the fan experience in the bus lot for everybody,” Major said. “This really helps us with the safety factor.
“We know we have great fans. We know the vast majority of our fans, they do behave well. They’re passionate, they’re loyal and they’re not causing issues, but there are a few who make a big stink out there – a few knuckleheads who wreck it.”
It remains to be seen if this new policy will slow down Bills tailgaters next season.
Last offseason, a policy was in effect that increased the price for the bus lot. They also threatened criminal charges for any table smashing. It appears this wasn’t enough to curtail Bills fans from smashing tables and enjoying themselves before a game.
Bills fans are persistent, stubborn and incredibly passionate about the Buffalo Bills and partying. It will be interesting to watch how tailgaters handle the new policy next season.
One thing is certain though, at least one Bills fan will go through a table and that video will go viral.