The New York Jets-Buffalo Bills game scheduled to be played Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium has been moved. The NFL announced Thursday that keeping the game in Buffalo was not an option “due to public safety concerns for the ongoing weather emergency in Western New York.” Instead the Jets and Bills will square off Monday night at a neutral site, Detroit’s Ford Field. The AFC East rivals will play at the opposite end of Lake Erie from where they had previously been scheduled, a location about five hours away by car from the snowbound city of Buffalo.
It’s not the first time that the NFL has had to adjust its schedule due to weather, disaster, or unforeseen circumstances. And, while there have been quite a few instances where game times or days have been shifted at the original venue for one reason or another, the league’s history also includes several games that were forced to be moved out of town for reasons beyond the NFL’s control. In fact, this isn’t even the first ‘neutral-site’ game that the league will hold at Ford Field.
Here are some other NFL games through the years that were played outside of their originally-intended cities (starting with the most recent).
In December 2010, snow caused the roof of the Vikings’ Metrodome in Minneapolis to collapse (you can watch the unbelievable video here), forcing Minnesota to scramble for alternative sites for its remaining two home games. The Vikings’ game against the Giants that weekend was shifted to a Monday kickoff in Detroit, with Minnesota dropping a 21-3 decision at Ford Field (in a game better known for the end of Brett Favre’s 297-start ‘Iron Man‘ streak). The Vikings played their next home game at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium, losing 40-14 to Chicago. (Ironically, Minnesota’s next game, on the road at Philadelphia, was forced to shift to a Tuesday night due to weather in Pennsylvania. What a month.)
The devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 evicted the Saints from New Orleans for their entire home slate. The Saints played their home opener against the Giants at Giants Stadium (a home-field disadvantage), and then split their remaining seven home games between LSU’s Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge and the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. Unsurprisingly, New Orleans limped to a 3-13 record with only one home win, a performance that ultimately cost head coach Jim Haslett his job.
An October 2003 game between the Miami Dolphins and San Diego Chargers had to be relocated from Qualcomm Stadium due to raging wildfires in southern California. The Chargers instead hosted Miami at Arizona State’s Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona for a nationally-televised Monday Night Football game. The displaced home team fell behind 24-3 by halftime en route to a 26-10 defeat.
The Bay Area earthquake of October 1989 affected more sports than just the Giants-Athletics World Series. The 49ers’ home game against New England on October 22 was shifted to Stanford Stadium, about 40 miles away in Palo Alto, California. San Francisco’s on-field performance didn’t seem bothered, though, as the Niners rolled to a 37-20 win. The 49ers went on to finish the year with a 14-2 regular-season record and beat Denver 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV to claim a second consecutive championship.