No big events? Expect an impact to private lots

Fair lots largely okay with no fair this year; Buffalo Bills lots face uncertainty

Mike Baggerman
May 29, 2020 - 3:00 am

Buffalo Bills fans tailgate ahead of Monday Night Football game against the New England Patriots. October 29, 2018 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) – There is a mixture of relief and uncertainty for private lot owners who let people park their cars on their property for popular events in the area.

For some owners of private lots near the fairgrounds, there’s some sense of relief that the Erie County Fair was halted this year because it means their lawns will not be damaged by the number of cars that park in it.

“We do make a little bit of extra money but I don’t know that it’s economically wise because there’s so much noise and so much dirt and sometimes there’s unsavory characters around,” Cindy, who lives by the fairgrounds, said.

Other people who use their property to make a few extra dollars bemoan the loss of the extra cash. One person said their family makes upwards of $1,500 per year on fair parking. Still, this same person also was giddy at the idea that their lawn won’t be damaged this year.

While expressing disappointment that kids can’t enjoy the fair this year, Cindy said she only brought in about $500 last year and had no plans to let cars park on her property anyway because of upgrades to her lawn.

A look ahead…

The coronavirus pandemic has forced most, if not all, scheduled events to be postponed or canceled this year. Western New Yorkers are anxious to see whether or not the Buffalo Bills will be able to start their season as scheduled.

Eric Matwijow, known popularly as “Hammer” of Hammers Lot next to New Era Field, is playing the waiting game for the use of his lots for Buffalo Bills games this summer.

“At this point right now, I’m thinking maybe I’m about two months out to know what’s going on,” he said. “I’m thinking they’re going to make me see the preseason games with no fans whatsoever. They’re going to try that out and then play it by ear.”

The Buffalo Bills open their season at home on September 13. Normally, that would mean more than 71,000 fans. However, nothing has been made official by the Buffalo Bills or the NFL about plans for reduced stadium capacity.

Matwijow predicted that it won’t be until October 15, when Buffalo plays Kansas City, until fans will return to the stadium. That means he, and other private lot owners, would lose out on two regular season home games and four total home games if you include the preseason.

While he’s leaning towards not having fans in his lots if there are no fans at the games, he’s contemplating a plan where he could still invite people onto his lot for a home game, but he said he would have to think about things like limiting the number of people who come in, buying hand sanitizer, and to buy signage.

“There’s so many things up in the air,” he said. “…If I have a directive by the government saying I can’t do it, then I can’t do it. It’s out of my hands.”

Economically, he said it will “sting” because lot owners could lose out on hundreds of dollars or even thousands per home game.

“That’s a soft way of saying it,” he said. “It is what it is. You just have to make the best out of what you can do with the situation.”

Matwijow wondered he could apply for small business loans if the government restricts him from allowing tailgaters in his lot. His lot is technically considered a business under the zoning map.

Matwijow is already losing out on money because of the postponement of the June 6 concert by the Rolling Stones at the stadium.

For now, he is still putting people on his list to reserve spaces in his lot, but said he can’t guarantee anybody will be given a spot.

Comments ()