BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A severe snowstorm has forced the Buffalo Bills to leave town to play their home game against the New York Jets this weekend.
And there's no telling if the Bills can have Ralph Wilson Stadium ready in time for their following home game against the Cleveland Browns on Nov. 30, team president Russ Brandon said during a telephone conference call on Thursday night. More than 5 feet of snow have fallen on the region since Monday, and another 1 to 3 feet was projected to fall by Friday.
Without providing any assurances, Brandon said it will take "an all hands on deck exercise" to have the stadium ready to host the Browns. He added that the Bills are already contemplating the possibility of spending much of next week practicing out of town because of how difficult it could be to travel in Buffalo because of the paralyzing storm.
Brandon spoke an hour after the NFL announced that it will relocate the Bills home game against the Jets due to public safety concerns. The league has still not announced where or when the game against the Jets will be played.
A decision on that is expected to come by as early as Thursday night or Friday morning at the latest, Brandon said.
The Bills are already making plans to fly out of Buffalo as soon as they can once the location of the game is established.
The team has canceled the past two days of practice because many of its players are snowed in. And those who can get out can't get to the team's facility because of a driving ban in place in Orchard Park and many of its neighboring communities,
"We have been in contact with the public authorities and we realize the importance of all available public safety resources being available for the community at this difficult time," NFL spokesman Michael Signora said.
Earlier in the day, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it would be difficult for the game to be played on schedule.
"If you ask me today, right now, my sense is it's impractical to do the game because it would jeopardize public safety," Cuomo said. "Everybody would love to see a Bills game go forward, but I think even more, everybody wants to make sure public safety comes first."
Cuomo spoke after spending the past day touring the affected region.
There's a possibility the Bills game against the Jets would be played on Monday or as late as Tuesday to allow the Bills time to practice.
On Wednesday, Bills Vice President of Operations Andy Major wasn't sure whether there was enough time to clear Ralph Wilson Stadium and its surrounding parking lots of the estimated 220,000 tons of snow covering the team's 200-acre grounds by Sunday.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz also cast doubt on whether the game can be played on time. Poloncarz said the county's emergency services are already stretched thin in dealing with the storm that he can't commit to them staffing the game Sunday.
The county is responsible for providing sheriff deputies for security at Bills home games.
Signora said the NFL is in discussions with the Bills and the Red Cross to provide support.
The Bills (5-5), who last practiced on Monday, are already coming off an extended break. They had last weekend off following a 22-9 loss at Miami on Nov. 13. The Jets (2-8) are coming out of their bye week, and haven't played since a 20-13 win against Pittsburgh on Nov. 9.
Jets coach Rex Ryan said his team wouldn't be hampered by a change of venue.
"It wouldn't affect us," Ryan said Thursday. "We'd just aim our plane in a different direction, I guess."
The temperatures are expected to warm into the 40s by Saturday, with a high of 47 projected for Sunday. But a sudden thaw presents another problem by raising flooding concerns.
Starting guard Kraig Urbik is among the Bills players who are snowed in.
"Any chance my street gets plowed today," Urbik posted on his Twitter account Thursday. "Or are we stuck here till Saturday?"
Though rare, changing the date or location of a game has happened before in the NFL.
The most notable switch occurred in 2005, when the New Orleans Saints were forced to split their season playing in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and San Antonio, Texas, after Hurricane Katrina damaged the Louisiana Superdome. In 2010, the Minnesota Vikings were forced to play their home game against the New York Giants a day later in Detroit after the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome's roof tore open.
The last schedule change occurred at Philadelphia in late December of 2010. That's when the Eagles' home game against Minnesota on Dec. 26 was pushed back two days as a safety precaution because a storm was expected to drop a more than a foot of snow in Philadelphia.