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Bills Tailgate Report: 'Billsfoot,' bad weather and a chance to learn curling

Seen and heard outside New Era Field before Bills vs. Colts…

Beware of Billsfoot: A monstrous-looking figure lurked in the New Era Field parking lot Sunday morning before the Bills’ Week 14 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts.

His name? "Billsfoot."

Jacob Gauda, 35, of North Tonawanda, has been dressing up in the Bills-themed costume for about 10 years, he said. He’s had season tickets to Bills games for 15 years.

He does it every week, but the costume takes on increased utility for snowy winter games such as Sunday’s.

“It helps out,” Gauda said. “Especially this hood.”

Gauda started dressing up as Billsfoot to bring an element of fun to Bills games, even in the absence of hope for the team’s postseason prospects.

“The Bills aren’t that upper echelon of a team,” Gauda said. “So I had to make the tailgating experience more fun.”

Some parking lots outside New Era Field were still empty as late as 11 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017, for the Bills' first snowy game of the year. (Luke Hammill/Special to The News)

Quieter than normal: For the Bills’ first snowy home game of the year, the parking lots outside the stadium reflected the inclement weather, and perhaps the Bills’ performance of late, as well.

The outer reaches of the stadium lots were nearly empty as late as 11 a.m. The fans who did make it to the game trudged through un-shoveled snow where the sidewalks were supposed to be along Southwestern Boulevard, and tailgaters warmed themselves beside small fires next to their cars and trucks.

Tickets on third-party resale websites were available for as low as $6 before kickoff. During the week, they were on sale for as cheap as $4.

That, perhaps, provides a gauge of fans’ expectations for the outcome of the Bills’ season, despite the 6-6 team being in the midst of a playoff hunt. Buffalo has lost four of its last five games.

The Buffalo Curling Club set up along Abbott Road Sunday Dec. 10, 2017 before the Bills game. (Luke Hammill/Special to The News)

Want to learn curling? Along the Abbott Road side of the stadium where vendors set up each week, one tent allowed fans to play a simulation of curling, the sport that enters the spotlight every four years during the Winter Olympics.

With the Winter Olympics set to return early next year, Jeff Offhaus of the Buffalo Curling Club wants fans who take interest in the sport to know they can learn how to curl without leaving Western New York.

The club has curled in recent years at Buffalo Riverworks, but recently acquired its own space at the former Buffalo China factory off Bailey Avenue, south of its intersection with Clinton Street.

The Bills invited the club to New Era Field for the Colts game and next week’s game against the Miami Dolphins after seeing its setup before UB Bulls games, Offhaus said.

Appropriately, it snowed for the curling club’s appearance in Orchard Park.

“It’s a winter sport,” Offhaus said.

Neil Eckert, of West Seneca, set out with a friend to turn this old van into a Bills tailgating venue. (Luke Hammill/Special to The News)

Party van: Neil Eckert, 36, of West Seneca, has been converting old vans into tailgating venues with a friend for about 10 years now, gutting the insides and decorating the outsides with Bills logos and mottos.

Eckert, a season-ticket holder, sits in the first row, behind the wall of one of the end zones, he said.

Eckert still had positive vibes for the Bills on Sunday morning.

“We better win,” he said. “I hope we win. Keep hope alive – that’s all we can do in Buffalo.”

Neil Eckert (left) and Ed Culliton, both of West Seneca, before the Bills' matchup with the Colts Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017. (Luke Hammill/Special to The News)

Next tailgate: The last home game of the season is next Sunday, when the Bills take on the Dolphins.

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