After over five feet of snow fell in the Buffalo area last weekend, with two to three more feet on the way, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says Sunday’s Buffalo Bills game is impractical. The governor cast doubt on whether the game should go on because there would not be enough emergency personnel available to meet the stadium’s requirements for safety. He told the press that emergency crews are too busy tending to citizens of the city who are still dealing with more than seven feet of snowfall in the last week.
As of mid-week, the Buffalo Bills were hopeful they would be able to make the 1 p.m. kickoff time. They even offered to pay fans ten dollars per hour and free tickets to Sunday’s game if they came to assist with snow removal.
With the heavy snow, potential flooding and needs of the city impacted by this record-breaking fall storm, Governor Cuomo was not hopeful emergency personnel could leave rescue and recovery efforts to attend the game. Local emergency workers are strained and working around the clock, as the snow has made passing through Buffalo nearly impossible and people have been stuck in their homes for almost a week. There is concern that people will begin to run out of food and water if the snow is not cleared away soon.
In a media briefing, Governor Cuomo laid out his reasoning why he feels the Buffalo Bills game on Sunday would be impractical. Due to the record snowfall, there is a driving ban in place for most of the city, and residents have been asked to stay off the roads. The Governor reiterated that while he and the people of Buffalo would love to see the Bills game happen on Sunday, public safety had to be the priority.
Erie County officials echoed Governor Cuomo’s sentiments, and asked the NFL to postpone or move the game. Ralph Wilson Stadium, where the Buffalo Bills play their home games, has taken the brunt of the storm. There has also been a state of emergency declared by the governor, which is not conducive to hosting a professional football game.
While Governor Cuomo said the game on Sunday would be impractical, he did not say it was impossible. During the media briefing, he said that if there were a break in the storm allowing emergency crews to make way in the cleanup, and they could be assured public safety would not be an issue at the game, officials at the state, county, and local levels would do everything they could to make the game happen.
The NFL’s only comment has been that they are working with the Buffalo Bills and local authorities to come up with a solution for Sunday’s game. There are possibilities, such as moving the game to another venue, postponing play or canceling the game. The NFL has not cancelled a game due to weather since a severe snowstorm in Philadelphia made a game impossible. Before then, the last game cancelled was due to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
It does not happen often, but the NFL does cancel games due to weather if needed. They might have to make up a game on a Tuesday, but if the Buffalo Bills cannot play because a game in the middle of record snowfall is impractical, it would be for the sake of public safety.
By Jennifer Gulbrandsen