Folks in Jacksonville knew they couldn’t prevent hordes of Bills fans from taking over their football stadium for the wild-card playoff game between the Jaguars and Bills on Jan. 7.
It was certain that Bills fans, WNY transplants in Florida and travelers from up north, were not going to miss the team’s first playoff game since 1999 and the end of The Drought.
One way, it was thought, to discourage invasion was an idea that showed up on an internet post and started to go viral. It was simply to ban the sale of folding tables in Duval County to out-of-town buyers in the week leading up to the game.
No tables. No place to set the chicken wings and beer growlers. No Bills tailgate celebrations.
Some overcame the phony folding table ban by importing them from Western New York. Some airline passengers even checked them as baggage – at added expense – on flights to Jacksonville.
After the 10-3 loss to the Jaguars, spiteful Bills fans destroyed the folding furniture – some did it by jumping on them – rather than leave them behind in the EverBank Field parking lots.
Since then, Bills fans have tried their best to forget the disappointing outcome but not in Jacksonville, the Folding Table Capital of North Florida.
It was such a big deal that the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp minor league baseball team in the Class AA Southern League is planning a promotional event for a game on May 11 to celebrate.
It will be Folding Table Appreciation Night at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, which adjoins EverBank Field in the city’s sports complex.
According to the baseball team’s website, the promotion is being presented by the Folding Table Association of Duval County.
“After being traumatized by Buffalo Bills fans, we will show our gratitude for Jacksonville-area folding tables that provide quality surfaces to work, party and eat on during Folding Table Appreciation Night,” it said.
“Activities for the night include but are not limited to: folding table grand prizes, between inning games involving folding tables, local businesses set up on folding tables and for the first time ever, an exclusive interview with a folding table that survived a Bills fan jumping on it during the Jags’ 10-3 victory over the Bills. For tickets and more info, please call our Director of Tabular Displays at 904-358-2846.”
The promotional idea – one famed baseball showman Bill Veeck never thought of – apparently is gathering momentum.
“We saw some posts on Twitter over the weekend from the Bills Backers club down here and it’s picked up from there,” said Jumbo Shrimp assistant general manager Noel Blaha. “Hopefully, we’ll get some folks in Zubaz to show up and have as much fun as we can have legally at the ballpark.”
Blaha remembers how Jacksonville was in lockdown preparing the arrival of the red, white and blue hordes from the Frozen North.
“We were bracing ourselves for the storm that is the Bills Mafia,” Blaha said. “Bills fans showed up and showed out. It was a really impressive thing to see in full force. The parking lot we share with the Jaguars is adjacent to the ballpark. I drove by and saw the remnants of what looked like a good pregame party because we know there wasn’t much celebrating going on postgame.”
Story topics: Bills Fans