Gov. Andrew Cuomo and local officials Thursday cast doubt on whether the Buffalo Bills game Sunday can be played, saying that emergency personnel cannot at this point be committed to the game as the area deals with more than seven feet of snow.
The Bills said Wednesday it was hopeful it’s 1 p.m. game Sunday against the New York Jets could be played, and the team is seeking workers to shovel out the stands — which was heavily hit by the storm.
But Cuomo says the snow, potential flooding and the strain on local emergency workers is making it increasingly difficult to commit to the game. State officials said that by the time the storm ends tomorrow, some areas in Buffalo could end up with more than seven feet of snow.
“I spoke to the county executive and the mayor about it,” Cuomo said during a media briefing Thursday morning in Buffalo. “Everybody would love to see a Bills game go forward, but I think even more, everybody wants to make sure that public safety comes first.
“And this point in time, everything we have to do with the driving ban, everything we just said, staying off the roads, would make a Bills game impractical.”
Buffalo area was already buried under as much as 5½ feet of snow Tuesday and Wednesday, and they awoke to the threat of 1 to 3 feet more when a new blast of lake-effect snow roared through western New York with thunder and lightning on Thursday, raising to nearly 6 feet the three-day total in parts of the Buffalo area.
“This is a historic event. When all is said and done, this snowstorm will break all sorts of records, and that’s saying something in Buffalo,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said after touring the region Wednesday and talking to truckers who had been stranded more than 24 hours on the Thruway.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz offered a similar assessment, saying it’s just too difficult at this point to say that the county and other local officials can have enough law-enforcement officials and emergency workers at the game.
“This is to the Bills and the NFL: As much as I’d like to, we have an emergency situation, a declared state of emergency, and Ralph Wilson Stadium is bearing the brunt of the snow,” Poloncarz said. “As of right now, I cannot commit to emergency personnel and sheriff’s deputies being at the facility on Sunday.”
Cuomo said they would continue to monitor the situation and hope that there’s a break in the weather that could make the game possible.
“If you ask me today, right now, my two cents would be its impractical to do the game because it could jeopardize public safety,” Cuomo said. “Maybe we get a break somewhere along the way. We get a break in the weather – the snow, the rain – and if there is any way we could scramble to get it done, I know the mayor, the county executive and myself, will do everything we can to deploy resources to make it possible, but now we are focused on public safety.”
Officials with the NFL said the league is continuing to work with the Bills and local authorities to determine whether the game can be played on Sunday.