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Tailgating experience not expected to change much with new Bills stadium

The Bills valued the tailgating experience, but we’ll be crunched for five years

AFC Wild Card Playoffs - New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images
Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

The Buffalo Bills are opening a brand new stadium in 2026, and the building is going to be located in Orchard Park, across the street from the current stadium. That’s really good news for tailgating, and not much is expected to change with the tailgate experience, at least once construction is done. During the construction, however, there’s going to be a pinch on space.

For the time being, the Bills are going to lose two of their stadium parking lots in the near future. The very popular camper lot is also going to be out of commission, and the Bills haven’t announced yet if they are going to designate another space for campers and RVs during the construction process or after. They currently charge $800 in 2022 for a season-long pass in the camper lot, and it’s been sold out for the last few seasons, so it would seem like something they’d want to keep in some way, shape, or form. The new stadium is going to be placed in the exact space where the RV lot is now located, along with the bus and limo lot. Currently, campers can start entering the lot on Friday (for a Sunday game) and many stay until Monday, spending an entire weekend with the rest of Bills Mafia.

In addition to the parking lots run by the Bills, several homeowners use their lawns and private parking lots are adjacent to the land where the stadium presently sits. While you need a ticket to tailgate in the official lots, there is no such rule in these private lots, and fans will often come to celebrate the team even without going inside the stadium once the game starts.

With the stadium only moving a few hundred feet from its current location, these private lots should all be largely unaffected. It’s going to be a slightly longer walk for some tailgaters, but not a significant problem. Folks at the popular Hammers Lot, on the west side of Abbott Road, will actually be closer to the entrance when the new stadium is completed.

Once the new stadium is built, the current stadium is going to be torn down and will become a new parking lot (or lots). That’s not expected to be utilized until the 2027 season, which would make the upcoming parking crunch last five seasons beginning in 2023. With expectations for the team sky-high during those five years, it’s going to take some time to get adjusted to having less space for cars.

The Bills, led by team co-owner and president Kim Pegula, did extensive research into what fans of the team wanted out of a new stadium, with written surveys and focus groups providing intel. They asked for feedback on several different locations and inquired about what people prioritized for the new facility. Fans were overwhelming in their response that they valued the game-day atmosphere and tailgating as top priorities when picking a location and designing the venue. Bills fans are undefeated at the tailgating scene, and plan to stay that way.

If the Bills moved downtown, it would have been harder to congregate together, to utilize the RV lot, and to cook and barbecue around the stadium. The team, New York State, and Erie County ensured that wouldn’t happen with the stadium location. (It also helps that this was by far the cheapest option for building the stadium!)

Once the new stadium is built and the old stadium removed, tailgating might actually get even better and have increased options with more room for activities (not to mention less traffic). With 10,000 fewer seats in the upcoming stadium, there will be fewer cars and fewer fans in the immediate space around the venue on game day. (You didn’t hang out with all 72,000 fans before or after the game, so it’s not going to make the experience worse.)

Either way, we’re just glad that Orchard Park is going to remain the epicenter of NFL tailgating for at least a few more decades.