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Buffalo Bills fans sign petition to ban Gov. Cuomo from attending home playoff game

Ryan Miller
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo did not allow Buffalo Bills fans to attend games during the regular season. Tens of thousands of fans don't want to let him into Bills Stadium for the playoffs. 

An online petition was created on Change.org that says Cuomo should be prohibited from attending the Bills' home playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts at 1:05 p.m. Saturday. 

More than 24,000 people signed the petition as of 4 p.m. Tuesday.  The petition was created on Dec. 31. 

Cuomo announced a day earlier that the Bills could open their stadium to 6,772 fans for their first home playoff game since 1996. He was joined by team owners Terry and Kim Pegula via satellite and indicated his intention to attend in Orchard Park. 

“I’m going to take my test, I’m going to be out there to watch the game with you, and we look forward to it,” Cuomo told the Pegulas. 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo holds a Buffalo Bills football helmet that was presented to him by Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy in the Red Room at the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013, in Albany, N.Y. Cuomo was unable to attend a news conference in December announcing a 10-year lease extension between the state, Erie County and the Bills. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

The petition description hopes to veto that decision by arguing the stadium is permitting a limited number of fans and the opportunity should be given to longtime fans over the governor. 

"So Cuomo is going to attend our playoff game after telling us that we can only attend at less than 10% capacity? If he thinks he has more right to a seat in that stadium over people who have waited over 20 years for this opportunity, then people better be there to protest his entry," reads the description from Jeffrey Dorenzo, who started the petition. "This is OUR team! This is OUR home. We don't want you here." 

The stadium, which has a capacity of 71,870, will be about 9.4% full. 

New York's policies have barred live crowds at live sporting events all year — which happened to be the Bills' most exciting season in decades — in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19. The NFL and some states have allowed a select number of fans in stadiums since Week 1. 

This is New Era Field before an NFL football game between the Buffalo Bills and the Pittsburgh Steelers in Orchard Park, N.Y., Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Cuomo said in late September, when infection rates were much lower than today, that he was open to the possibility of opening the stadium up to socially-distanced fans. Cuomo was more concerned about fans entering and exiting the building in close quarters than he was about the virus spreading during the game.  

In November, Cuomo said rising COVID-19 infection rates were troublesome in the region and it would be "reckless" to allow fans into Bills Stadium. 

Fans are required to receive a negative coronavirus test leading up to the game. The tests will take place at Bills Stadium on Wednesday and Thursday and cost $63, which is part of the ticket purchase. Fans are required wear face masks at all times and social distancing rules will be enforced. 

Of the 6,772 attending, about 6,200 are allotted to season ticket holders and 500 are guests of the team and players.

Cuomo's administration has control of a luxury suite at the stadium, a benefit built into the 2013 lease agreement allowing the football team to occupy the stadium through the 2022 season.

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