Chiefs-Dolphins could approach NFL record for coldest game. Bills-Steelers postponed due to snow
Jan 13, 2024, 8:00 PM
(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins were set to play one of the coldest games in NFL history on Saturday night, yet that didn’t stop hundreds of fans from lining up outside the parking lots of Arrowhead Stadium more than 12 hours before kickoff.
At least they made it to the stadium.
The NFL was concerned that nobody could make it the Bills’ game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in Buffalo, where up to a couple of feet of snow was expected overnight. So, the league and New York state officials decided to postpone the wild-card playoff game until Monday, when the brunt of the snow is expected to have ended.
“We want our Bills to win,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said at a news conference in suburban Buffalo, “but we don’t want 60,000 to 70,000 people traveling to the football game in what’s going to be horrible conditions.”
The snow wasn’t the problem in Kansas City, where more that fell Saturday morning tapered off before kickoff. Rather, the concern was what the National Weather Service called “dangerously cold” wind chills, which were expected to make a forecasted temperature of minus-2 degrees Fahrenheit (minus-18 degrees Celsius) at kickoff feel like minus-24.
“The spectators need to be prepared. Think cold ski trip or ice fishing,” said Dr. Sarah Spelsberg, who teaches in Northeastern University’s Graduate Program in Extreme Medicine. “If it’s me, I’m wearing ski goggles, too. There would not be a millimeter of my skin showing in these temperatures. I had frostbite one time and I never wanted to have it again.”
There have been only four postseason games played in subzero temperatures in NFL history, the most recent the 2007 NFC title game between the Giants and Packers, when it was minus-3 at kickoff. New York won 23-20 at Lambeau Field in a game perhaps best remembered for the images of Giants coach Tom Coughlin’s frozen face on the sideline.
The coldest game in league history remains minus-13 for the 1967 NFL championship, when the Packers beat the Cowboys at Lambeau Field in a game that came to be known as the Ice Bowl. The wind chill that day was minus-48 degrees.
“We definitely had that initial shock when we looked at the forecast,” said Chiefs season ticket-holder Keaton Schlatter, who was coming from West Des Moines, Iowa, for Saturday night’s game. “We thought about maybe posting our tickets for sale and if they don’t sell, then we would go. But we decided that it’s all part of the experience.”
About six hours before kickoff, stadium workers were plowing snow from the tarp covering the field, then scooping it into trucks and driving it from the stadium. The field itself is heated, though, and should not be a problem for the players.
As for the fans, the Chiefs had numerous warming stations throughout the stadium, and they bent some of their rules to help them deal with the weather. Fans were allowed to carry in blankets, provided they had no zippers or compartments, and could use portable chargers to power the kind of heated apparel that Schlatter was bringing to the game.
Fans also could bring cardboard to put under their feet, a useful tip that Chiefs safety Justin Reid passed along this week.
“Trying to figure out what to wear that will be the warmest has been the concerning part,” said Lauren Bays, a Chiefs fan from Smithville, Missouri. “I’ve been thinking of ways to add warmth all week and did find a pair of ski goggles that I plan to wear.”
Not every fan is such a diehard. The prices for tickets on the secondary market plummeted throughout the week as fans tried to unload their seats. The price to get in was less than $30 by Saturday, or about 10% of what it would normally cost.
The weather almost certainly will put a chill into the Dolphins, whose loss to Buffalo last week cost them an opportunity to host a home playoff game this weekend. They practiced all week in warm Miami, and it was 86 degrees on Friday, when they stepped on the plane to Kansas City. It was 10 degrees with a wind chill of minus-6 when they arrived, an almost 100-degree difference.
“You can’t prepare for a game like that with that kind of weather, so it’ll be new,” said Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who grew up in Hawaii and played his college football in the relative warmth of Alabama.
The coldest game ever played at Arrowhead Stadium was 1 degree at kickoff, set during a game against the Denver Broncos on Dec. 18, 1983, and matched during a game against the Tennessee Titans on Dec. 18, 2016.
Just about every forecast called for that record to be broken Saturday night.
“Cold’s cold. For you, me — it’s cold,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “But you go do your thing. That’s how you go play.”
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