The Buffalo Bills now say that a “misaligned joint” on an underground sewer line caused the problems that forced officials at Ralph Wilson Stadium to close the restrooms and concession stands on one side of the lower bowl for roughly half of Sunday’s football game.
That collapsed pipe allowed stone and dirt to get into the drainage system, causing a backup that left some liquid and possibly some sewage on concourse and restroom floors, according to fans’ complaints.
Those problems forced the Bills to announce during the first quarter that the concession stands and restrooms had to be closed, apparently between Sections 120 and 142. Those sections cover the home-team, press box side of the stadium and parts of both end zones.
Those restrooms reopened in the third quarter, but the affected concession stands did not, team officials said.
“Obviously, we’ve had some complaints from the fans, and we addressed them individually,” Scott Berchtold, the team’s senior vice president for communications, said Monday. “We did the best we could, and we continue to address them today. We also want to apologize to any fans in attendance who were inconvenienced at Sunday’s game.”
The Bills said they reacted quickly, putting into play their Incident Action Plan.
They brought in some portable toilets to an area near Gates 2 and 3, directed fans to the functioning restrooms and communicated the situation on their public-address system, on the team’s Twitter account and through the media.
“You can’t predict these types of situations,” Berchtold said. “We take great pride in trying to react to them as quickly as we can.”
The Bills, in a statement they released through the media during Sunday’s game, hailed the speedy response from their game-day partners on site, including Erie County Emergency Medical Services, Erie County Hazardous Materials Response Team, Windom Volunteer Fire Company, John W. Danforth Co. and Mark Cerrone Inc.
“In a normal situation, it could take anywhere from half a day to a day to correct a situation like this,” Berchtold said. “These guys did this in less than two hours.”