BUFFALO, N.Y. — There may only be a limited crowd allowed inside Bills Stadium for Saturday's playoff game, but there are places you can go to watch with others if you care to.
One of them, will be in downtown Buffalo.
Similar to what they did last summer to help struggling bars and restaurants, the city and the Chippewa Alliance will block off the street between Delaware and Franklin, with tables and chairs placed down the middle of it, where folks can enjoy food and drink, and watch the game outdoors on giant TVs.
"I think they are like 20 feet by 14 feet or something on either end of the street," said Rachel DeDomenico, president of the Chippewa Alliance.
"It'll be four (patrons) per table as guidelines suggest, six feet of social distancing, and patrons will have to wear their masks if they are standing."
In order to further protect public health, and keep the crowds down, they've made this an event to which you can't just show up.
"You have to have a table reserved or your not gonna get in," said DeDomenico, adding that there will be a $50 charge per reservation.
"So if you are talking four per table your looking at $200 per table, and then that money will go toward your bill, and at the end of the night when you are squaring up your tab, it'll come off of the bill and we'll go from there," she said.
"The city is all in favor of it," said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.
Brown says the experiences of the summer demonstrated to him that Chippewa businesses can pull this off responsibly.
"The businesses were very diligent in spacing out properly, and making sure that proper sanitation was being followed," Brown said. "So we feel very comfortable with the businesses on Chippewa being able to do this safely, smartly, and successfully."
If you are out driving in the downtown area on Saturday, be aware that Chippewa St. will be closed to vehicle traffic from 9 AM-8 PM starting at Franklin St. on down to the Buffalo TapHouse.
Required reservations to secure a table can be made by texting (716) 939-1279 or by email at: email@example.com.
The Party is Over Before it Started in Williamsville
Meanwhile, a somewhat similar event planned by the Amherst Chamber of Commerce appears to have been scuttled.
The Chamber of Commerce had proposed closing down several blocks of Main Street in Williamsville, between Cayuga and Mill Streets, to allow bars and restaurants to pick up some extra business by expanding outdoor seating and having large screen TVs for a block party.
However, Williamsville Mayor Deborah Rogers declined to sign the needed permit for the event.
In a telephone interview, Rogers noted that Williamsville is still under a state ordered "Orange Zone," and felt that such an event — even though it would be outdoors, would be inappropriate under such circumstances despite the organizer's pledge to follow all current public health guidelines.
Rogers also claimed that because Main Street (Route 5) is a state road, the DOT would have required that traffic be closed off not just for a few blocks, but for pretty much through the entire village.
According to Rogers, the closure would have to be from Union to Youngs roads so that large trucks wouldn't detour through residential side streets.
This meant, according to Rogers, that the effort to help a handful of bars and restaurants struggling under COVID-19 restrictions would come at the cost of harming other types of businesses along what would be a mile long commercial stretch.
"I know the Chamber is disappointed, but at the end of the day I have to make decisions on what is best for the more than 5,000 residents of our village," Rogers said.