The Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers’ playoff game will go ahead as planned on Monday afternoon, despite thick snow still blanketing the stands at Orchard Park.
The sun was shining Monday on Highmark Stadium, where the green artificial turf was cleared of snow but the stands were still covered in a white blanket some five hours before the storm-delayed AFC wild-card playoff game.
The remnants of the lake-effect snow band that dumped more than 2 feet of snow on the Bills’ home in suburban Orchard Park moved north toward Buffalo, allowing for a large crew of shovelers – volunteers being paid $20 an hour – and a fleet of front-load tractors to clear the facility.
Kickoff was set for 4:30pm ET for a game originally scheduled to be played at 1pm ET Sunday, when the brunt of the storm was hitting the region, with much of it centered on Orchard Park.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul in consultation with the NFL had postponed the game on Saturday, citing public safety concerns.
The Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers ‘ playoff game will go ahead as planned
Thick snow is still covering the stands and walkways at Orchard Park after a huge winter storm
The Bills had posted a picture of the ominous scene at a bitter-cold Highmark Stadium earlier on Monday that seemed to suggest the game was in doubt.
But new pictures and footage from inside the stadium showed that, while the pitch has been cleared and is ready for game day, it’s a different story in the stands with huge piles of snow still dominating the rows of seats.
The Bills posted on X: ‘Our snow removal crews are working relentlessly to remove as much snow as possible before kick off.
‘A reminder to all fans attending today’s game, please dress appropriately for the cold weather including waterproof boots and pants.’
Shovel crews have been working on clearing the stadium seats, walkways and tunnels since Sunday, when snow fell at a rate of more than 2 inches (5 centimeters) per hour.
Crews worked overnight, with the Bills making a plea for more volunteers early Monday.
Workers race to remove snow from Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park ahead of kickoff
Major roadways leading to the stadium were cleared, with 5-foot snowdrifts lining the roads after they were plowed.
It was unclear whether crews would have enough time to clear the 70,000-seat stadium’s three decks in time for kickoff.
The National Weather Service forecast for Monday called for a chance of snow showers through the early afternoon, with a high of 18 degrees. Temperatures were expected to dip to 14, with winds ranging from 8 to 16mph.
The Bills have announced that they will be putting on a free shuttle bus because of the limitations on parking around the stadium caused by the snow.
If the Bills win the game they will host Travis Kelce and the Chiefs on Sunday night in the divisional round.
However, if the Steelers win, they will play the Chiefs in Kansas City on Saturday.