With four feet of snow already on the ground in Orchard Park and another two feet expected before Friday, the storm that’s paralyzed parts of the Buffalo region has created an unprecedented snow removal project at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
According to Bills VP of Operations and Guest Experience Andy Major, 220,000 tons of snow needs to be removed from the complex before the Bills are scheduled to host the Jets at 1 p.m. on Sunday. That’s enough snow to fill the ADPRO Sports Training Center Fieldhouse eight times over.
“We have not had this much snow as far as we know in the history of our team,” said Major. “It might take three days or so to remove one foot of snow before a game and now we’ve got four feet of snow on a 200 acre site where there’s potential for more coming. So right there it gives you the magnitude."
Major says the first step in the process is to clear the field and make sure it’s safe and playable, followed by the plowing of the parking lots, then the digging out of the concourses, gates, stands, entryways, stairs and seats. With that monstrosity of a task ahead - and as is always the case when snow removal is necessary at the Ralph - the Bills are asking the community for additional help in shoveling out the stadium.
“We’re just going to have to go 24/7, triple shifts, to push forward and make sure we have this place ready for Sunday,” Major said, giving a target number of 500 shovelers. “We can’t have too many people helping, so there’s no cutoff. We will definitely not be turning anybody away who wants to help shovel snow.”
(If you’d like to help shovel out the Ralph for $10 an hour plus game tickets once travel bans have been lifted and it’s safe to get to the stadium, email email@example.com or call 716-636-4840. This number is correct but may appear busy or incorrect due to the high volume of calls.)
Much of the equipment to be used for snow removal is already on-site, with more coming from Rochester and Syracuse. But regardless of the man power or equipment, finding a place to put all the snow is a task of its own. Major says the plan is to tuck the snow, from both inside the stadium and on the surrounding premises, into the back corners of the parking lots, which will likely decrease the parking spaces normally available to Bills fans on gamedays.
“It’s going to be a huge team effort to get this done,” he said, adding that evaluations will be made every hour, on the hour, until Sunday, to assess how much progress is being made.
As for any potential postponement of the game, Bills Senior VP of Communications Scott Berchtold says that decision will be made by the NFL.
“We’ve had conversations with the league but they've just been about where we are right now,” said Berchtold. “It’s not up to the Bills. It’s the league that would decide anything like that. All of our attention right now and all of our focus is at 1 o’clock on Sunday.”