ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The Bills' home opener is just one day away, with many fans not only counting down the hours, but also claiming their spots near New Era Field.
"The city's psyched so we're feeling that energy, and we love to be a part of it," said Ken Wesoloski, a Cheektowaga resident already parked in the RV lot.
Added Joe Markham, a Syracuse resident who is stationed in a private lot: "We just showed up this morning just a little bit before noon. It's about a three-hour drive for us so we just pulled in. Getting all set up. Getting ready for the game. We've been here since Friday night like 1 in the morning, and then they let us in at 6, and we got set up."
It's that same Buffalo spirit, but not necessarily the same pregame atmosphere.
Included in some of the changes this year, people arriving in buses and limos are no longer allowed to tailgate next to their vehicle in the stadium lot. Fans would’ve also needed to buy those passes to park in advance.
But the new fan area known as the "Tailgate Village" is another option this season.
The changes are a part of a larger effort, stressing safety leading up to the games.
Markham said he understands the decision, adding, "Am I happy about it? No. It's fun to tailgate and be near the stadium, but people brought it on themselves."
Mark Ebeling, the manager at Danny's South on Abbott Road, also supports the decision.
"It was out of control at the stadium. They were trashing it. Watch after the game how much they were picking up the garbage ... The stadium's doing the right thing," Ebeling said.
Behind Danny's South, they've offered bus and RV parking packages for about seven years. Ebeling told 2 on Your Side the stadium lot changes could be pushing more people in their direction.
"We get a lot more because they're sold out. They can't get in," Ebeling said.
At Buffalo's Best Grill on Southwestern, the staff is preparing for the home opener like they would any other year -- getting ready for bigger crowds in the morning and late afternoon.
Server and bartender Matthew Knab said, "We're a little bit further from the stadium so the tailgating rules don't really affect us as much. If anything it might help us business-wise because it might steer people away from going to the tailgates."
Knab told 2 on Your Side they see a lot of return customers throughout the season. He added, "It kinda has that sports feeling. My owner likes to call it the corner bar that's not on the corner."
The fans we spoke to said regardless of where they spend those hours leading up to the game, there's something special about a football Sunday in Western New York that brings the whole community together.
"I started doing about seven years ago," Ebeling said. "I was afraid to because I thought they would take over my parking lot, but since the Bills did their limited sales, we benefit from it. AI get a lot of them now."
The manager says they provide food to fans tailgating behind the restaurant, and he thinks the Bills made the right call for safety and clean-up purposes.
Quite a few RVs were already set up at Danny's leading up to Sunday's game, and right by the stadium, there are hundreds of people already camping out.