Why are the crowds swelling again around Pinto Ron’s famous Bills tailgate?
The answer, unsurprisingly, goes back to last summer when ownership was still an uncertainty.
“It was like a giant rain cloud over our head for the last couple years and that was driving people away,” Pinto Ron says. “Nobody wanted to commit to season tickets. There was a lot of people who didn’t want to commit to the emotional investment. But when the Pegulas took over, we knew that the team was staying here. It’s A-1. Go for that emotional investment. All in.”
Bills fans responded by going over 60,000 season tickets for the first time in franchise history.
Ron also gives the hiring of Rex Ryan plenty of credit. Adding big names like LeSean McCoy, Percy Harvin and the rest created a perfect storm of fandemonium.
“You look around this parking lot right now, there’s excitement like I’ve never felt,” Bills fan Ryan TeSaim said. “I’ve had season tickets for eight years and I’ve never seen anything like the feeling that we have right now for these Bills.”
“It’s new blood in here,” said Pinto Ron’s head chef Pete Papagelis. “And new makes everything good.”
Bills fans have been down this road before. Lathered up with confidence after the preseason only to end up a puddle of failure months, or even weeks later.
They know it. They admit it. And they don’t care.
“I drink the Kool-Aid every year,” Bills fan Nick Papagelis said. “I thought the year we signed T-O was going to be the year. I thought the year when we re-signed Fitz was going to be the year. I think this year is going to be the year. It’s how I grew up. You always think this is your year. If you don’t think you’re gonna win, what are you doing here?”
“I was so confident, this parking lot I’m in right here, I pre-paid for the entire season including non-refundable playoff games,” Pinto Ron said. “That’s how confident I am.”
Let the real games and the real tailgates begin.