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Voices of the Fans: Banditland is a Lacrosse Experience

I was asked to share how, exactly, it came to be that my friends and I became the fans we are now of this sport, this team, this nearly religious experience that Banditland has evolved into over the years. I must tell you that our fandom has evolved along with it over the now 24 years our season ticket holder group has existed. So, it’s a challenge to say that there is any one particular detail or set of circumstances that helped establish the craziness that is the BOX sign crew of Section 117. But I can tell you exactly how many times we had to enter Banditland for our love of it to be planted and begin to grow: ONE.

One game, on a whim. Myself, my best friend, John, and a much smaller group than the now almost 20 of us who take up residence in those seats… looking for something different to do one weekend. Taking a chance one night in the year 2000, and coming down to the arena, buying tickets when we arrived because we had seen an advertisement for the Bandits during a Buffalo Sabres game. A few friends looking for a “Guys Night Out,” having no idea that we were walking into a sporting event so much like the hockey we already loved, but at a whole different level.

So much scoring! And the crowd cheering! And the chants! And the music! We attended every remaining home game that season and signed up for season tickets the next season, as soon as we knew they were available. It took a couple seasons before we settled into our current seats, but we knew that’s where we wanted to be because THAT was where our favorite chant originated from. And the next 20 years became like nothing I could have imagined.

We got to know so many of the fans sitting in that section, many of whom were attending since Day One in the Aud. This includes our biggest inspiration in Mike and Ed Hughes and their family, who, as legend holds, are the originators of most of the chants you hear floating up from that side of the field. Somewhere in those early days was where the musing over creating signs to go along with the BOX chant began, and one of us took it upon himself to make the first signs our group held in his garage from handmade stencils and spray paint. We got to hear the stories of how almost all of the players all had regular jobs, like you and me. That alone made it even easier to appreciate their efforts and to root for them every game. And seeing the players come out and celebrate every win and slough off every loss WITH the fans at places like Cobblestone and others?! We had never seen anything like this.

Over time, we have told anyone who’ll listen (and often, without provocation) how amazing we think Banditland is. Our group has grown from the small “Guys Night Out” to bringing our spouses, and our children, and inviting other friends, like Tess and Dave Goldstein who I had the honor of joining in the fan video;  and have made so many more true friends with those we’ve met for the first time in those seats. We all love to make our voices heard, screaming our support for the men carrying our city’s name on their chest, playing a game that I dare say is more exciting than nearly any other we know; a game that we can see they love to be a part of as much as we love to support.

Well, how about that. Maybe I did answer the question after all. The LOVE for this game that we could feel from the very first time we saw it. That’s what made us fans of the Buffalo Bandits.

-Matt “Maniac” Sciara

Hello!

I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what it means to be a Buffalo Bandits fan.  There’s something truly special about being a part of this community.

For me, being a Bandits fan is more than just showing up to games – it’s about passion, loyalty, and dedication. I’ve been a Bandits fan since Day 1, and what an incredible ride it has been. I am a big sports fan and there has always been something different and special about this team and this sport.

From setting up watch parties where all Bandits fans are welcome, to cheering on the boys in the orange & black at every home game, being a Bandits fan is a way of life. I’ve been going to games since the Aud days and watching this team over the years has been an incredible journey.

My creation of the giant 4 sided “B-O-X” boxes was just complementary to the chant which already existed since the 1st season. My friends that sit with me are good sports and have fun with it since I made these crazy things and I have been bringing them to each and every home game.

But being a Bandits fan isn’t just about supporting the team – it’s also about growing the fan base and sharing our love for the game and team with others. That’s why I make it a point to recruit more fans and introduce new people to the excitement of Bandits lacrosse.

And as for road games – I go to several every year to show my support wherever the team may be playing. I love representing Banditland wherever I go.

In addition to watching games, I also play lacrosse with other Bandits fans and help raise money for charity through the sport we all love.

So, here’s to all the die-hard fans out there who bleed orange & black like I do. Let’s continue to support our boys, grow our fan base, and show the world what it truly means to be a Bandits fan.

Go Bandits!

–Tony Failla

NLL