Congress

Republican congressman rails against NFL’s Buffalo Bills for charging tailgaters

New York NFL team ‘nickeling and diming the fans’ with new tailgating policy, Rep. Reed says

Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., is not too happy with the Buffalo Bills’ new tailgating policy that charges groups with 20-seat vehicles $300 to tailgate in the parking lot. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Tom Reed is not happy with the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and their new policy of charging large groups of tailgaters hundreds of dollars to suck down beer and hot dogs in the parking lot of New Era Field before and after each home game.

The Upstate New York Republican began a weekly press conference with local reporters, according to BuffaloNews.com, by calling on the Bills to “reconsider” their new policy, ostensibly intended to cut down on popular pre- and post-game, alcohol-lubricated hijinks such as the sacred “Bills Mafia” tradition of body-slamming plastic folding tables.

“To see the Buffalo Bills go down this path, nickeling and diming the fans so that they can enjoy the tailgate experience before the game and after the game, is just ridiculous to me,” Reed said. “And so we wanted to call this out and ask the Buffalo Bills to reconsider their imposition of this charge.”

Last week, the Bills’ front office announced its plan to charge people who tailgate with 20-seat vehicles $300 and to force them into a designated area for large vehicles. Groups with 40-person vehicles would pay $600, and groups with a 60-person vehicles would pay $900.

“Our No. 1 concern as an organization is fan safety,” Bills vice president of operations and guest experience, Andy Major, said last week, per BuffaloNews.com. “When you’re seeing what was happening in the bus lot the last couple seasons, especially last year, it gets very concerning. It’s dangerous behavior, not just negative fan behavior. It’s dangerous to security, the sheriffs and staff who are trying to police things.”

Reed, though, was not impressed with that line of reasoning. He painted the new policy less as a disincentive for drunken behavior than as a shameless money-grab by an already-profitable organization.

“When you have a $15 billion profit a year in the NFL, really do we need to be charging our neighbors, our friends these type of charges so that they can enjoy the tailgate experience at the game?” the congressman said. “To me, it’s not fair.”

Reed believes that with enough public pressure, the Bills will back down from their new policy.

The Bills first preseason home game is scheduled for Aug. 8 against the Indianapolis Colts.

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