ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Highmark Stadium was full of Bills fans days before the home opener on Monday night against the Tennessee Titans.
On Friday, the Bills hosted the 50 Yard Finish races as well as the second day of the Bills Garage Sale, which benefited the Bills Foundation. Gates were scheduled to open at 5 p.m., but they opened early for the sale because so many fans were waiting in line.
It was the quiet before the storm in Orchard Park, but the fans were already excited. They say the anticipation is only going to grow as it gets closer to game time.
“Where else would you rather be than right here, right now?” Wayne and Lori Gorski of East Amherst said.
The Gorski family recently moved back to Western New York, after living in the Washington, D.C. area for nearly three decades. They were born and raised in Buffalo, and now, they have retired here. They are 2022-23 season ticket holders.
“We just moved back after 27 years in Washington, D.C. We retired came back and right away I had to buy tickets,” Wayne Gorski said. “I still get choked up when I hear the “Shout” song. What can I say?”
For Thomas Butera of Hamburg, he is ready to share this season with his son. Butera and his dad have been season ticket holders for more than two decades. He says sharing this experience with multiple generations is the essence of Buffalo.
“My dad and I have been season ticket holders since 1998. It’s good to have a team that’s good now. Coming off of last week’s win, this place is going to be going crazy,” Butera said.
Fans say this is the year to go all the way to the Super Bowl and win it. At the events Friday, many people sported their favorite Bills themed shirts, some of them referencing Von Miller’s Burn It All video, indicating that fans are moving from the past into the future.
“We feel a little short changed because of last year. I think we just got that last little piece and we’re going to take it this year,” Denise Madey of Cheektowaga said.
It’s not just Bills Mafia that’s excited. Vice President of Operations and Guest Experience Andy Major says the entire organization is ready to welcome fans back to the stadium for a regular season game in prime time.
“Coach McDermott, Josh Allen, our defense, our offense, our special teams all they keep saying is when they look up in the stands, what that does for them to get them ready, juiced and jacked up for game day,” Major said. “Bills Mafia we know they’re ready. They traveled to LA. Home Game, Monday Night Football… Are you kidding me?”
Bills fans are united whether they are watching the game at the stadium or at home. It’s the atmosphere across the city and region that makes it feel like football season.
“The whole city is energized with how they are playing and it’s only going to be more electric with them here for the home opener on a Monday,” Steve Irachi from Tonawanda continued.
Kickoff is at 7:15 p.m. at Highmark Stadium Monday night. The Buffalo Bills say fans should plan to get to their seats early to participate in pregame festivities.
The Erie County Sheriff’s Office says anyone driving to the game should expect road closures and delays. The NFTA and the Bills have partnered to increase bus service to the City of Buffalo and the north towns.
There will also be increased security at the games as well as additional sheriff’s patrols on the roads.
Orchard Park and Frontier School Districts also called for a half day on Monday to eliminate bus traffic from the roadways.
Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a reporter in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.