The political rally for Donald J. Trump on Monday night at First Niagara Center is not going to be anything like going to a Sabres game.
Anyone who plans to attend the event -- the arena can hold up to 18,000 people -- should plan accordingly, Buffalo Police Lt. Jeff Rinaldo said.
A strong police presence is expected in downtown for the rally, and several streets around the arena are slated to be closed. Also many surface parking lots in the area normally open for events at First Niagara Center are expected to be closed to public parking.
Dozens of local police in tactical gear who are part of the Buffalo Police’s emergency response team held a training session Thursday afternoon at the Perry Housing Development a few blocks away from First Niagara Center.
The team trains about once a month, Rinaldo said, and it made sense to do the routine training ahead of Monday’s events.
No. 1: Traffic
“There are going to be numerous street closures in and around the arena starting at noon,” Rinaldo told reporters Friday morning.
Streets immediately around the First Niagara Center parking lot will be closed. More street closures may be announced over the weekend.
No. 2: Parking
Several surfaced parking lots normally open for Sabres games near First Niagara Center are expected to be closed.
“The public should not expect normal game day parking for this event,” Rinaldo said.
Lots closed to the public include the First Niagara Center ramp, the HSBC Atrium parking lot and The Buffalo News lot.
No. 3: Public transit
Here’s one way the event will be like Sabres game: the NFTA will run Metro Rail in the same way it does for Sabres games. That means extra cars will be added to each train, trains will be waiting at Canalside when the rally lets out and there will be extended service.
Police urged people to take advantage of public transit or to carpool.
No. 4: Get there early
Doors to the Trump rally are expected to open at 4 p.m., but police said it’s probably a good idea to get here “a couple of hours” earlier because of the number of people expected and the security involved.
No. 5: Security
The Secret Service will handle security. “Secret Service screening takes a little bit longer than what you’re used to for attending an event at First Niagara (Center),” Rinaldo said.
You’re not going to be able to bring much into the arena. That includes “any type of bags, packpacks, signs, banners, foods beverages or obviously weapons.”
No. 6: Booze
No alcohol will be served at First Niagara Center during the event. However, concession stands inside will serve food and beverages.
No. 7: Protests
Police said peaceful protests are allowed near the arena but did not give any specifics where demonstrators will be allowed to gather.
“As those people arrive and as they set up their thing,” Rinaldo said, “the police department will make accommodations for them to have an area. At this point, I don’t have one designated that I can tell you. Again, working with the police officers that’ll be there that day and our command officers, we’ll make sure everyone that wishes to have, you know, an area to state their claim, will.”