Pittsford, New York welcomes 2013 Buffalo Bills training camp this week, and beginning this weekend, fans can take in up to 15 free practices at St. John Fisher College. It's a beautiful facility, and the interaction you get with the players can't be beat. Here's what you need to know and what you can expect if you've never attended Bills training camp before.
Dates and Times
Check out this post to see when the dates and times of training camp are.
Transportation and Parking
Parking is not available at St. John Fisher College for Bills training camp. There are fans who park cars on their lawns across from the college and charge up to $20 for parking if that's the route you want to take. Otherwise, you'll need to park at one of the two high schools in Pittsford - Sutherland High or Mendon High. Once there, you'll need to take a shuttle to the facility at $1 per person; it's round-trip. It's free if you're under 12 or over 62.
The shuttles start rolling more than an hour before the practice's start time, and there can be a line to get on the bus. They also must navigate traffic in the village of Pittsford, so please plan extra time before camp.
Following camp, two lines will form to take you back to your respective high school. Take note whether you are at Sutherland or Mendon so you can get in the correct line.
Tickets and Cost
Training camp is free. Hooray! You will need a ticket for the night practices that must be obtained ahead of time. Right now, only tickets to the August 5 night practice are available at select Verizon Wireless locations. If you don't have a ticket, the ushers usually collect extras at the gate to give to fans who don't have one, so you can try your luck.
The shuttle will drop you off right at the entrance. After entering the gates, you'll be forced to walk through a gamut of vendors and merchandise. Stop by the booths for some free stuff and spend some money (cash or credit accepted) at the Bills Store.
Once you leave the air-conditioned tent, there are three practice fields. The first that is immediately visible is Growney Stadium. This turf stadium has permanent seating and bleacher seating, as well as standing room access. On the far side of the turf field at Growney, past the big tent where the VIPs have access to the only alcohol allowed on site, is the grass practice field. This is where the majority of Chan Gailey's practices were held, but it remains to be seen where Doug Marrone will stage his team. Further to the left is the third grass field used mostly for team work where the offense and defense need to be separate. Because of the aforementioned tents, you'll need to walk completely around the fenced-in grass field to get to the third field.
In the back right corner near the primary grass field is the Buffalo Bills experience. If you have kids with you, this is perfect for them. Football practice can be boring. These are kid-friendly activities, but be warned - if you're over there with your kids, you're not going to be able to see the practices yourself.
Food and Refreshments
Food and drink prices have gone up a little bit in the past two years, but they are still far cheaper than at a game at Ralph Wilson Stadium. As mentioned previously, alcohol is not sold and is prohibited on the grounds unless you're in a VIP section. The Bills also allow fans to bring their own drinks, food and small coolers - something frugal folks everywhere should enjoy.
The best way to get autographs is to be ready before and after practice. Choose a spot closest to the locker room entrance (on the far left as you face the fields) and wait. After practice, players will generally go sign along the fence.
There are also special signing sessions for kids 14 and under after every daytime practice. After practice, kids wait at the autograph tent between Growney and the Bills Store tent. Here's the complete list of when players will be available, including all the top names (but not ).
- Bring sun screen. There is not a lot of shade throughout most of the facilities.
- The PGA Championship is being played in Pittsford at the Oak Hill Country Club during the week from August 5-11. Traffic and shuttle buses could be impacted with longer wait times. Keep that in mind.
- Media members, Bills staff, and players will all interact positively with you if you interact positively with them. That goes the same for your fellow observers. Don't be the 40-year-old dude shoving the 6-year-old kid down to get an autograph.
- Wear your Buffalo Rumblings gear to stand out as an informed and spectacularly awesome Bills fan.