The Buffalo Bills are still preparing to play Sunday's game against the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium as scheduled despite over 4 feet of snow already dumped on the area this week and more than a foot more snow expected.
“All of our intention and all of our focus is 1 o'clock on Sunday,” a Bills spokesperson said on a conference call Wednesday.
Any change to that plan would be for the NFL to decide, according to Scott Berchtold, the Bills senior vice president of communications.
“We are working with the Bills to determine the status of the stadium,” a league spokesman told The Buffalo News. “If a change to the schedule needs to be made, the league will make the decision, working closely with the club and local authorities.”
The Bills did not provide a timetable on when the NFL would decide whether it will be necessary to postpone the game or move it to another location.
The Bills estimate that they will need to clear 220,000 tons of snow in order to clear the stadium for Sunday's game. The organization is offering $10-per-hour and game tickets for anyone willing to shovel snow at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The team is seeking at least 500 fans -- working on three shifts.
“We don't have a maximum number (of people to shovel),” Bills vice president of operations and guest experience Andy Major said. “We can't have too many people helping.”
“We have not had this much snow, as far as we know, in the history of our team,” Major said, adding that it typically takes three days to clear one foot of snow from the stadium.
There is a driving ban in Buffalo, so players were unable to get to the facility Wednesday. It's unclear if the Bills will practice at all this week.
“We really don't know exactly what's going to happen, obviously with the weather report for tonight,” coach Doug Marrone said Wednesday.
On a conference call with Jets media, Marrone made Thursday practice sound unlikely.
“They're talking about another two-to-three feet tonight,” he said.
Marrone and most of his coaching staff stayed overnight Tuesday and plan on remaining at the facility Wednesday night. They have been taping segments of the game plan, and then distributing the information to the team digitally.
Marrone, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and defensive line coach Pepper Johnson were all stranded on the I-90 highway Tuesday. They needed help from police to get off the highway.
“It's a tough, tough situation. I've never been a part of this, even being a New York state native,” Marrone said, “It's very difficult to put in words exactly what is going on. It's just a very, very difficult and challenging situation, not just for our organization and our football team, but for the region.”
Marrone said the priority in communicating with the players is their “safety, making sure everyone's safe and making sure they abiding by the rules, obviously, with the driving ban.”