Buffalo Bills fans have gained a reputation as some of the most dedicated in the NFL, but a low demand for tickets for the team’s first open-to-the-public home playoff game in a quarter-century has led some New England Patriots media to take aim at Bills Mafia.
One day ahead of the team’s Saturday night showdown with the New England Patriots, there were thousands of tickets available on the secondary market for prices as low as $26. While there are a number of factors behind the lesser demand — mainly the historically cold forecast — some Patriots media members took the opportunity to get digs in against Bills fans.
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Bills Mafia Under Fire
The Bills are preparing to play Saturday’s game in what could be the coldest conditions in franchise history. Temperatures in Orchard Park are not expected to get out of the single digits and could be close to 0 around the time of kickoff, which WGRZ in Buffalo noted could be the coldest ever played in Orchard Park in terms of actual temperature. The current record is held by Buffalo’s 1994 Divisional Playoff game against the Los Angeles Raiders, which also had a temperature of 0, though Saturday’s game is not expected to come anywhere close to the wind chill of the 1994 game, which dipped down to between -10 and -20 degrees.
While the temperature is likely the driving force behind the number of available tickets — along with some other factors, including border restrictions holding back the large contingent of Canadian fans — some Patriots media instead blamed Bills fans. SB Nation’s Pats Pulpit claimed “it appears as if #BillsMafia is not overly eager to see its team enter the NFL playoffs, at least when judged by current ticket prices.”
The report pointed out that Bills tickets were cheaper than tickets for every other playoff game scheduled in the coming weekend, and only several paragraphs later mentioned the frigid temperatures before taking another dig at Bills fans.
“In unrelated news, Bills fans recently placed a billboard near the Patriots’ Gillette Stadium praising Buffalo supporters as the ‘best fans in football,’ ” the report noted.
Others joined in pointing out the slow ticket sales for the game, which is the first home playoff game at full capacity since the 1996 season.
But it was not just those in the Patriots media who have noticed the lower attendance at Bills games. As Bradley Gelber of USA Today’s Bills Wire pointed out, even Bills coach Sean McDermott made a comment about the dip in attendance for the season finale, when the Bills clinched their second straight AFC East title with a win over the New York Jets.
Bills Ready for the Cold
While the frigid temperatures may be keeping down demand for tickets, the forecast doesn’t seem to bother the Bills players, including Stefon Diggs. The receiver pointed out this week that he’s actually played in colder conditions before, a January 2016 playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks when he was a member of the Minnesota Vikings. The temperature for that game dropped down to -6 with a wind chill of -25.
Diggs said Saturday’s contest will be nothing in comparison to that game.
“It’s just going to be so cold, bro. My fingers get cold, toes get cold,” Diggs said. “As soon as you come off [the field the trainers are] like, ‘Do you need a coat?’ And you’re just like, ‘Nah, get away from me.’ But they’re always there for me, so I feel like I’ll be fine. … I’m not too much of a complainer, and I played in one of the coldest games in history, like when we played in the playoffs vs. Seattle at the Minnesota Gophers stadium. It was like negative something. So this ain’t nothing. I’ll be alright.”
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I’ll buy Covid and the Canadian border. But I’ve had pats seasons since 93, and no pats playoff game has empty seats. I’ve left only one game due to cold … against the Jets … with my 8 and 10 year old sons.
I think I saw a report of counterfeit tickets?