A state assemblyman has proposed altering New York state law to allow the Buffalo Bills to sell beer at games an hour earlier. This may seem a weird way to enhance family-friendly offerings at Bills games, but anything that could cut back on the drunken shenanigans prior to games is welcome.
Democrat Sean Ryan has pitched the legislation, which would allow the Bills to sell beer in Ralph Wilson Stadium at 11 a.m. State law forbids alcohol sales at venues and stores until noon Sundays.
He claims the proposal would provide a more controlled drinking environment and reduce rowdiness in the parking lots surrounding the stadium, at which you could easily see a puking drunkard before noon or any number of fights as fans stave off inebriation by 10 a.m.
Good for him to introduce the bill. Bills games feature more booze than your average Oktoberfest celebration. The culture of drinking is so pervasive at Bills games that it sometimes proves fatal. It also certainly allows the inner imbecile to come out of every halfwit who's hopped up on liquid courage.
Fans do rank the tailgating experience among the best in the NFL. But many of the people doing the voting are probably the same ones hoarding vodka bottles to begin downing at 8 a.m. While there are numerous tailgaters who safely gather before games and engage in civil activities, too many Western New Yorkers have the mindset of Bills games being an excuse to get belligerently drunk and behave in a way that would otherwise never be acceptable.
The rowdiness was enough for Erie County to require more police patrols at games as part of the Bills' lease that was finalized a year ago. That presence did help reduce arrests and ejections last year, but Bills games are still no place to take a family.
Kegs, funnels and glass bottles were also banned last offseason in an effort to curb binge drinking and violence. But the culture of "get drunk quickly and completely" won't go away. Walking down the street holding your son's hand as the guy next to you cradles a six-pack he's trying to guzzle before hitting the stadium gate is just not an experience any parent would want to take part in.
A lot of people would probably continue to do that even if the law is changed, to be fair. Stadium beer is expensive. A case of Genesee Cream Ale is not. So people who want to set out to drink before the game may very well continue to do so.
But getting at least some people out of the parking lots would help. Just as the club took the previously mentioned steps last season to eliminate asinine behavior, so too would this change in law further reduce the idiocy. Some people do honestly want to drink in moderation. Others don't want to take part in the madness.
The legislative session ends June 19. The bill does not yet have sponsorship in the state Senate. Both houses must pass the bill for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign it by June 19 or else it dies for this year.
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