Ralph Wilson Stadium - Camper Lot
Orchard Park, NY
New York Jets
vs. Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills Stadium
November 6, 2011
27 - 11 Loss
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Capacity: 73,967 seats
Playing Surface: Titan 50 by A-Turf
Draft Beer: $6.50
Hot Dog: $3.00
Stadium Parking: $25.00
One Bills Drive
Orchard Park, NY 14127
Stadium Review - The Camper Lot
It's been said that, "Nobody circles the wagons, like the Buffalo Bills." Well, the same statement applies to the proud Buffalo Bills fanbase that arrives four hours prior to kickoff to participate in a time-honored tradition that Bills fans excel at ... the tradition of gameday tailgating. Ralph Wilson Stadium's suburban location in Orchard Park, New York, with its massive expanse of blacktop parking, has served as an ideal epicenter for promoting the culture of putting meat to flame. On gameday throughout the season, loyal Bills fans pack into the lot to begin the pregame ritual of Barbecue, Beer, and Buds. Tailgating is engrained in our youth and has evolved into an integral part of the gameday experience, and Bills fans have gained a reputation throughout the league as one of its premiere tailgating communities. Innovators like Kenny "Pinto Ron" Johnson, whose nationally recognized tailgate cooking practices (involving the use of garden implements and hand tools), continue to set the bar high for the rest of the league and serve as an example to Bills fans of what we can aspire to be.
The Buffalo Bills organization has also done their part to enhance the gameday experience for its fans and the establishment of the Camper lot at Ralph Wilson Stadium is a prime example of this commitment. The Camper lot or RV lot has been around for over 20 years and is a one-of-a-kind in terms of fan gameday amenities. Buffalo Bills fans are actually permitted to park their recreational vehicles and campers onsite in a parking lot across the street from the stadium as early as Saturday morning for Sunday home games. The lot opens at 8:00am and fans can spend the day barbecuing and drinking their favorite adult beverages of choice, right up through gametime on Sunday for a very reasonable early entry fee of $50.00. In addition, the Buffalo Bills have built a permanent brick and mortar shower and bath facility at the camper lot known as the Comfort Station. Located at the rear corner of the Camper Lot, the Comfort station is heated and maintained by a cleaning crew throughout the weekend. Fans can take hot showers and prepare for gameday in a clean, heated facility after a long night of pregame celebration.
This year marked the 16th anniversary of our annual Buffalo Bills Family Retreat and our crew of Steiniger men were set for another successful year at the Camper Lot for the November Bills-Jets Matchup. The Bills had proven an unexpected AFC playoff contender this season and after years of watching them lose during our weekend retreat, we were ready for a win.
The typical Family Retreat attendees were all present and accounted for and at 7:00am on Saturday morning (a new record start for our group) we headed over to "The Ralph" to claim our spot in the Camper Lot. Once in place, after claiming a superb guard rail position in the lot, we got directly to the business of lunch preparation. On the menu for the midday meal was the traditional Buffalonian roast beef on Kimmelweck sandwich, known to locals as "Beef on Weck". The Roast beast was slowly rotisserie roasted to perfection on a charcoal fire for two and a half hours. Tender and juicy, it was an excellent primer for the evening's seafood boil, which was to be the main event.
Our Saturday activity, which was meant to help pass the time was the first annual Tailgate Beer Tasting. Six packs of brews along with freshly filled growlers comprised the collection of several beers representing several areas of the country. We tried regional brews, micro brews, IPA's and pilsners and by the end of it all everyone had a different favorite. The beer tasting was an overwhelming success and it's an activity I hope will be come a mainstay for future Family Retreats.
The evening's meal was a seafood boil that consisted of an amalgamation of creatures from the deep that were lightly accented with some Cajun seasoning, courtesy of my favorite Bayou fisherman from Big Cat Tailgating down in Jacksonville, Florida. This dry rub, known as "Slap Ya Mama" perfectly accented the fresh tilapia fillets and scallops. We also steamed some mussels, crab legs, and crawfish. It was an impressive feast.
Gameday was upon us before we knew it. So donning our Chris Berman inspired "Circle the Wagons" jerseys, we hit the parking lot in search of tailgaters. Many of the traditional Bills tailgaters have moved to private lots this year, but it didn't take long to track down tailgating veterans like Pinto Ron and Coffin Corner. In addition to checking in with locals, we decided to check out the Ralph C. Wilson Fieldhouse which hosts the Buffalo Bills version of the NFL experience on gameday. The NFL experience is free of charge and features interactive games are setup to allow aspiring quarterbacks, wide receivers, and kickers to participate in pass, catch, and kick drills using real game equipment. Interested fans, both kids and adults, only need to sign a waiver to participate as fans can catch passes from the JUGS machine, kick through the uprights, or hit inflatable wide receiver cut outs with pinpoint, accurate passes. Everything is setup on the artificial surface that's used by Bills players for indoor practices and press conferences. It was well worth stopping in.
As for the game ... I don't even want to talk about it. It was another example of the typical Buffalo Bills home losses that we've grown accustomed to expect as part of our Family Weekend Retreat. So much promise unfulfilled. The Bills lost to the Jets 27-11 in a game that the New York Jets dominated right form kickoff. With the AFC East Crown in their crosshairs the Buffalo Bills fell short. It was an embarrassment..
For more information on the city of Buffalo, NY check out my other reviews by clicking on the links below:
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NHL: Buffalo Sabres, HSBC Arena - General Information
|City of Buffalo Local Information|
Top Tourist Attractions:
Niagara Falls - Maid of the Mist Boat Tour
Anchor Bar - Originator of the Buffalo Chicken Wing
Buffalo Chicken Wings
Kimmelweck "Beef on Weck"
LaNova White Pizza
What They're Drinkin':
Labatt's Blue, Molson Canadian, Yeungling
Kenny "Pinto Ron" Johnson's Tailgate Party
Recreational Vehicle Lot
Pocket Map of Buffalo
Stadium Parking Map
Local Sports Media:
The Buffalo News
Chippewa Street (SoHo, Papaya, Pure, Omega Lounge, Bayou)
Elmwood Avenue (Mister Goodbar, Coles, Sahara Grill, JP Bullfeathers)
Delaware Avenue (Nektar, Toro, Fahertys, The Thirsty Buffalo, Snooty Fox,
Hertel Avenue (Fiamma, Shadow Lounge)
Anchor Bar (Originator of the Buffalo Chicken Wing)
Pearl Street Grill
Buffalo Chophouse (Steak)
Tandoori (Indian Cuisine)
Kentucky Gregs (BBQ)
800 Maple (Brick Oven Pizza, Martinis)
Papaya and Seabar (Sushi)
Northend Trattoria, Romeo and Juliet's (Italian Cuisine)
Getting to the Stadium:
To get to Ralph Wilson Stadium, you're going to need to drive to Orchard Park, NY, which is a suburb of Buffalo. Public transportation is not an option here.
Where to Stay:
I would suggest staying in a hotel in downtown Buffalo to take advantage of the nightlife. The best hotel is definitely the Hyatt Downtown, located a stone's throw from the Chippewa Street bar district. the Hampton Inn downtown and Adam's Mark are also good options.
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|Preparing the Roast Beast||Rotisserie roasted Buffalo Meat||Carving the Beast for traditional Beef on Weck|
|Me and My Girls||Stevie, Marcel, and Jimbo||Lauren Decked out in Bills Gear|
|Seafood Boil almost ready||Jacob, Myself and Big Hans||First Annual Beer Tasting|
|Ralph C. Wilson Fieldhouse||Kick, Pass, and Catch||Buffalo Bills Displays|
|Nobody Circles the Wagons ...||The Deuce||The Fellas from Man-Cation|
|Myself, Kenny, Joey B, Jacob, and Erik||Love those Jerseys ...||Ralph WIlson Stadium Revisited|
Please feel free to post any suggestions or comments you might have for my journey to
Ralph Wilson Stadium, including the following:
- Local Hotspots (Bar Districts, Restaurants, Clubs)
- Local Foods (Traditional Cuisine, Micro Brews)
- Tailgating Traditions
- Your Experiences or Helpful Hints
- If you saw me let me know!
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