Andrew Cuomo reverses course, won't attend Buffalo Bills playoff game

Jon Campbell
New York State Team

ALBANY – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will not attend the Buffalo Bills playoff game on Saturday after all.

Cuomo, a Democrat, had previously said last week he intended to attend the 1 p.m. game against the Indianapolis Colts at Bills Stadium in Orchard Park, which will be the team's first home playoff game in 24 years.

But Cuomo's original decision had rankled many Bills fans, who questioned why the governor would be allowed to attend the game when only 6,772 fans — making up about 9% of the stadium's capacity — would be allowed in.

By Wednesday, Cuomo changed his mind: He won't be in attendance on Saturday. Instead, Cuomo said he will be working on his State of the State address, which he intends to deliver Monday.

"I’ll be here working on the State of the State, which is a labor of love," Cuomo said during a briefing at the state Capitol.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo holds a Buffalo Bills football helmet that was presented to him by Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy in the Red Room at the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013, in Albany, N.Y.

Bills fans were prohibited from attending any of the team's home regular season games this season, blocked by Cuomo administration limits on crowd size in an attempt to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

Last week, Cuomo and the state Department of Health agreed to allow 6,772 fans attend the playoff game on Saturday, but only after testing negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of gameday.

Cuomo's original decision to attend led to the launch of a Change.org petition, which called for the governor to be banned from attending the game given the limited capacity imposed by his administration.

By Wednesday, the online petition had more than 40,000 electronic signatures.

"If he thinks he has more right to a seat in that stadium over people who have waited over 20 years for this opportunity, then people better be there to protest his entry," the petition reads.

Cuomo said he intends to give his ticket to an Erie County Medical Center nurse.

More:Buffalo Bills fans sign petition to ban Gov. Cuomo from attending home playoff game

More:Some fans will be allowed to attend Buffalo Bills home playoff game after getting tested

Jon Campbell is a New York state government reporter for the USA TODAY Network. He can be reached at JCAMPBELL1@Gannett.com or on Twitter at @JonCampbellGAN.

Support local journalism

We cover the stories from the New York State Capitol and across New York that matter most to you and your family. Please consider supporting our efforts with a subscription to the New York publication nearest you.