In a continued effort to improve fan safety and the overall game day experience at New Era Field, the Buffalo Bills have implemented a new Bus Lot policy for the 2018 football season. The organization is optimistic that the policy will help curb the uptick in fan behavior issues that occurred in the Bus Lot during the 2017 season, by bringing accountability and awareness to the few in violation.
"That's our hope, that we can make the fan experience better for charter buses and all the other people who are in the Bus Lot trying to have a good time and then make it safer and overall improve the fan experience like we have done in the regular parking lots and in the RV Camper Lot," explained Bills Vice President of Operations and Guest Experience Andy Major. "We didn't want to ban tailgating in the Bus Lot and we thought this would be the next best thing to try and help the fan behavior there."
The policy will consist of an increase in the cost of bus parking from $60 to $100 and will require that fans purchase their bus permits in advance of game days. Additionally, the individual purchasing the bus permit will be required to pay a $100 security deposit, which will be refunded within two business days following the game, if there are not any Fan Code of Conduct violations with that person's bus.
The decision, as Major explained, was one heavily rooted in research and both internal and external consultation.
"This policy was created after a lot of research and consultation," said Major. "We worked with the Orchard Park Police Department, Erie County Sheriff's Office, Erie County Commissioner's Office, Allpro Parking and our private security firm. We've worked with the NFL and we've consulted other NFL teams and researched best practices across the NFL to see what other teams are doing – what's working, what's not working…So we put a lot of effort into what can we do to fix this situation.
"We even have an internal fan behavior, fan conduct committee. We meet all year long. We discuss policies, we discuss what we can do internally to get better. We have a Fan Advisory Board that we deal with on these issues made up of Season Ticket Members – people who park in our lots, people who go to our games and buy tickets. We received valuable feedback from several bus companies that use the lot. We also have a Team Member Advisory Board of staff that work the games, that are on the front lines, including security, sheriff, parking and guest services teams that are working in the Bus Lot. We did a lot of research on this before we implemented anything."
Fans should also be aware that bus permits, like the RV Camper Lot permits, will be distributed on a first come first served basis. It is recommended that once fans know which game(s) they would like to attend via bus, that they contact the Bills Ticket Office at 1-877-BB-Ticks, or in person at the Box Office at One Bills Drive, to ensure they receive a permit. Buses that arrive on game day without a permit, will be turned away.
As mentioned, the policy is just one of many areas that the Bills have focused on in order to make game days enjoyable for everyone.
"We encourage fans to drink responsibly and behave responsibly on game days," said Major. "We want them to tailgate and have a great time but just be responsible. This is another effort to improve the fan experience, similar to what we've been doing lately with the Billevard and the Fan Zone. We're always looking to make it a better fan experience and a safer environment for all fans."
For more information on game days at New Era Field, visit here.