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Highmark Stadium mandates vaccines, Bills' fans react

Fans must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 31
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Posted at 11:28 PM, Sep 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-14 23:35:02-04

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WKBW) — “Unfortunately, it looks like my streak of making every game now for 22 years may have to end,” Bills’ season ticket holder Drew Armusewicz said.

The Bills join a short list of NFL teams that now require proof of vaccination to attend a game. For Armusewicz, that’s a deal breaker.

“If you were to make people wear a mask the entire game, that is a more palatable option than saying you can’t go,” Armusewicz said.

“This is a natural flow of what’s been happening in society with testing and the virus,” Ron Raccuia from Pegula Sports and Entertainment said.

Season ticket holders have until Friday to decide whether they want a refund, or if they’ll get the vaccine. Fans who choose the vaccine must have one dose by September 26. They must be fully vaccinated by the end of October.

“It’s certainly enough time. Im not worried about them finding 70,000 vaccinated people to feel that stadium,” Bills’ season ticket holder Cole Kline said.

“You can walk in anywhere and get a COVID shot tomorrow if you want to, there’s no reason to delay,” Bills’ fan Thomas Smith said.

Smith said he considered selling his ticket for a game next month after he saw crowds of unmasked people on Sunday. But this new mandate puts him at ease.

“A year and a half now, we’ve done everything we’re supposed to do to avoid getting COVID, it’s not worth the risk going to a football game,” Smith said.

Proof of vaccination can be shown in three ways, physical vaccine card, excelsior pass, or a clear digital version. No photos of vaccine cards will be accepted. But now, if you do attend a game, you won’t need to wear a mask.

“It’s going to not only make Bills games incrementally safer, it’s going to make it more comfortable for those who are vaccinated, not having to wear masks anymore,” Kline said.

Fans cannot refund single game purchases. In an email to season ticket holders, the Bills said if you do decide to refund season tickets, you will lose seat location and ticket seniority.

“The fact that they say if you do want to get your tickets refunded you lose seniority, that seems punitive,” Armusewicz said.

“There are options for all of our fans and they will be able to choose what option is best for them,” Raccuia said.

If you want to get the vaccine, Erie County is offering it at Highmark Stadium from noon to 8 PM on September 22, 29 and October 6, 13.