Longtime Season Ticket Holders Excited To Attend Playoff Game
The Biggest BILLievers
There are very few things in the world that Anne Sischo loves talking about more than the Buffalo Bills.
A retired kindergarten teacher at Fletcher Elementary School in Jamestown, generations of students became accustomed to not only seeing her five days a week in the classroom, but also eight Sundays during the fall on television — a season ticket holder for 28 years, the Sischos’ seats are located right near the end zone.
“We’re such loyal fans,” the Jamestown resident said with a laugh, crediting a love of football to her father, an avid fan, and husband, a youth coach.
“When I was a little girl, I was a big Bills fan and I used to sit around and watch the games together, (my dad) would buy me the trading cards and take us to the games a couple times,” she said. “We never had season tickets, but I just got interested in it and then my husband Steve and I … We’d go when we were dating and when we got married, we got season tickets.”
For nearly three decades, Sischo has seen just about everything from those seats in Bills Stadium’s lower bowl — save for one of the franchise’s 13-3 resurgence this season due to COVID-19. But, thanks to a pilot program put in place by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the state Department of Health and Bills’ owners Terry and Kim Pegula, Sischo and her husband will be one of the nearly 7,000 fans let into the game as Buffalo hosts its first home playoff game since 1995.
She couldn’t be more excited.
“We’ve sat through horrible games and horrible weather, but we’re usually there every week,” she said.
“To not be there this year, when they’re playing so well, has been hard. … I wasn’t going to go if we didn’t feel it was going to be safe, but I do feel this is going to be a safe way to do it.”
She’s one of several locals that will be in attendance for Saturday’s 1:05 p.m. kickoff against the Indianapolis Colts. Tom Fisher, another longtime youth football coach and season ticket holder for the last 17 years, will also witness the new Bills’ regime, led by star quarterback Josh Allen, take centerstage in the playoffs.
“I was really excited,” Fisher said of getting tickets. “I was more excited for my son. He’s been a Bills fan his whole life and he’s an even bigger fan than I am.”
The 6,700 tickets made available to the public sold out quickly last week: veteran season ticket holders were assigned a time to log on to Ticketmaster to purchase seats in pods of two or four. After securing seats, they were required to visit the stadium on Wednesday and Thursday to be tested for the coronavirus. To enter the stadium Saturday morning, each will be required to present their ID and a negative test result. Each entry is timed. Seats are also socially distanced.
“They put a lot of thought into this, Fisher said. “Right down from when you could get online with tickets and how far out they spread the seats.”
Normally in Section 138, row 1, the social distancing requirements unfortunately pushes the Sischos a section over and 16 rows up.
“Our normal seats are blocked off,” she said. “They have the first 10 rows blocked off all around the stadium. … It looks like there’s really nobody around us. They are spacing people out a lot.”
Overall, Fisher said he believed the Bills did a good job of making the experience affordable.
“This is going to be the model for everybody,” he said, noting that patrons were required to pay fro their COVID test. “The test was $65, plus $8 for the Ticketmaster fee, $11 per person for parking and then the ticket is $105. It ends up being $192 when all is said and done. It’s still probably the cheapest playoff ticket in the NFL — it’s more then we usually pay, but it’s pretty reasonable.”
Ticket holders who test positive will be given a refund, save for the test price.
“We’re pretty happy about it,” he said about going. “I just wish there were more fans than that. I get it though, we’ve got to get through this.”
Both Fisher and Sischo have bore witness to some special moments in Bills history — chief among them, the famous “Comeback Game” against Houston in 1993, in which backup quarterback Frank Reich helped erase a 32-point deficit to help the Bills advance in the playoffs and onto their third Super Bowl appearance in as many years.
“I was with a friend on the visitors’ side in the upper deck in the last row against the wall,” Fisher said. “At halftime, we went down to get a hot dog and I looked over the rail and all these people were leaving. … Later, after the started coming back, you look down over the top and people are trying to climb the fence and we were yelling ‘Fair weather fans.’ They opened the gate and let people come back. What a blast that was.”
In attendance as well, Sischo said that a ticket holder behind her had a heart attack during the game due to the shock.
“He was an older man,” she said. “When they started coming back, I’ll never forget that he had a heart attack. That’s how exciting it was. That was the best game because that was just unbelievable. We sat through a lot of good games.”
Even through a bout with breast cancer a few years ago, Sischo refused to miss any games — paired with the support of friends, colleagues and family, the team’s play always gave her something to look forward to.
“Even when I was going through chemo, I would get chemo on a Thursday and go to the game on Sundays even though my doctors told me to stay home so I didn’t catch anything,” she said. “It was just something positive to look up to and get excited about and be there for.”
She calls her group of season ticket holders with seats around her “a second family.”
“We know everybody,” she said. We also like to travel to the away games, two or three a year, so we get to know people that way as well. This year we couldn’t do that, but you get to know these people. It’s a whole community.”
And while those in attendance on Saturday will be unable to attend a second-round game, Fisher is just grateful for the opportunity to be there.
“I didn’t expect to be able to go to a game this year,” he said. “We had no expectation for that. This really is coming out of the blue and it all happened and they put it all together so fast. It’s a pleasant surprise.”
He added, “Hopefully they keep playing like they’re playing. Being a fan this long, it’s hard to get used to them being this good.”