BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — There are less than 48 hours to go until kickoff as the Bills prepare to host the Cincinnati Bengals in the Divisional Round, and local businesses say they are ready for a surge in tourism from fans rooting for both teams.
The Bills’ playoff run is bringing visitors into town during a typically slow time for tourism. Local businesses in Western New York say fans from near and far bring a welcomed boost to business.
“Anytime the Bills or the Sabres are doing well, it’s good for business,” said Phil Kinecki, owner of Duffs in Orchard Park. “Especially this time of year, you’re usually a little bit slower unless there’s something going on with football and the Sabres. This boosts us up just a little bit more and helps make up for those days we had to close for snow.”
These fans visiting the area aren’t just going to the game, they are experiencing all the region has to offer.
“That plays into everything that people will want to do. Going to the bars, going out to get wings, just experiencing our destination, going to the waterfront. Of course, Mother Nature we’re going to have to see how much she cooperates with us as well,” added Patrick Kaler, president and CEO of Visit Buffalo Niagara. “Having these games really helps the overall economy, the visitor economy, in Buffalo and Erie County.”
Kaler says many Cincinnati fans will be in town because it’s within driving distance. Bills fans from out of town are also returning to share in the playoff atmosphere.
“People think the BFLO Store is for the local community. It absolutely is, but a lot of people come in for the game that are Bills Mafia members from outside the area. As far away as California we’ve had people in today,” said Nathan Mroz, owner of the BFLO Store. “The Bills bring a different life. It could be cloudy for 46 days straight, but as long as the Bills are playing well, everybody’s in a good mood. The sun may not be out, but certainly the spirits are out when it’s Bills fever.”
Playoff fever is infectious and these business owners say it helps make up for lost revenue during the snow storms at the end of last year.
“Especially this time of year, you’re usually a little bit slower unless there’s something going on with football and the Sabres. This boosts us up just a little bit more and helps make up for those days we had to close for snow,” Kinecki said.
The City of Buffalo is also gearing up for the big game. They encourage all fans to attend a pep rally Friday morning at 11:30 a.m. on the steps of City Hall.
It’s not just a big sports weekend in Orchard Park, too. Not only do the Bills take the field Sunday, but the Sabres play Saturday afternoon at KeyBank Center. Additionally, Bills Mafia will have their eyes on the Chiefs-Jaguars game on Saturday, as the winner of that game will move on to the AFC Championship Game.
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.