Will the Buffalo Bills have fans in the stadium?
ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it’s still possible the Buffalo Bills could have some fans at home games this season.
The Democratic governor said Wednesday he will soon tour Bills Stadium and meet with team brass to discuss the possibility of a limited number of fans at Orchard Park in the coming weeks. Cuomo said he has spoken to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell about the possibilities.
“It’s something we’re looking at. I spoke with the commissioner. I understand the plans they are working on,” Cuomo told reporters on a conference call to discuss the latest COVID-19 data. “We have a complicated factor in western New York because we have a higher infection rate than other parts of the state, and we’ve had the caution flag up in western New York.”
While the NFL has allowed a limited number of fans in stadiums, New York’s policies have not allowed for it because the state doesn’t allow for large gatherings. But Cuomo pondered the possibility of having some fans socially distanced in the nearly 72,000-seat stadium.
He said the concern is not necessarily about having fans spread out in the seats, but them entering and exiting the building in close quarters, which could create a risk of spreading the virus.
Western New York’s infection rate has hovered about 1%, which has at times been higher than other parts of the state.
“I’m going to go out and take a tour of the stadium and meet with the team leadership and talk it through: Is there way, with the design of the stadium, to get people in and out without causing a gathering?” Cuomo continued.
“The commissioner’s point is you can seat people socially distanced. They have some stadiums where they are doing 5,000 people. That would be fine. The question is getting in and out of the stadium without mass gathering.”
Cuomo noted he’s a “big Bills fan myself, as you know. And we’re excited about the season, and so I’m 100% eager to get fans back into games.”
The governor’s comments come a day after the undefeated Bills indicated that there are no immediate plans to change the current no-fan policy.
“At the end of August, we announced we would not be having fans for the first two games of our season based on guidance from the New York State Department of Health for professional sports,” the team said in a statement to season-ticket holders.
“As of today, there has been no change to those protocols and fans will not be able to attend home Bills games for the foreseeable future.”
But the team said it was “working diligently behind the scenes to ensure we are ready to provide fans with a safe environment should protocols change and we are able to root for the Bills in person.”