The Buffalo Bills and Erie County have agreed to more than double the county’s police presence inside and outside Ralph Wilson Stadium as part of a proposed agreement added to the new stadium lease, Buffalo News reports.
The Bills want 128 more Erie County sheriff’s deputies or officers from other agencies to patrol the stadium on game days, and the team would foot the bill. On Monday, NFL owners voted to approve the new lease agreement. The new 10-year lease extension would provide for $130 million in renovations to the stadium.
The Bills have stressed the need for a more family-friendly stadium, especially after widespread complaints about rowdiness in the stands left fans giving up their season tickets, the article says.
According to Deputy County Executive Richard Tobe, the extra deputies would supplement private security officers employed by the team and sheriff’s deputies already providing traffic patrols. The county currently provides between 85 and 90 deputies for traffic patrols, arrest and other tasks.
In recent years, the Bills have been trying to change their stadium’s reputation by improving game-day behavior, including:
- implementing an easier way to report abuse in the stands;
- creating a more visible police presence;
- offering free cab rides to some ejected fans and encouraging the use of designated drivers;
- opening stadium lots an hour later to reduce pre-game drinking;
- instituting the “Make Mom Proud” campaign; and
- blocking ejected fans from returning or purchasing tickets until they complete a four-hour online course.