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With Bills headed back to Toronto, a primer on retractable roofs

By Tim Graham

On Thursday morning's highly engaging and spiritually enlightening chat, a reader posed a question for which I didn't have the answer.

He wanted to know if the Buffalo Bills could order the Rogers Centre to keep the roof open for Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks. I told him I would poke around and post an answer on the Press Coverage blog.

In addition to the Rogers Centre's guidelines, I'll also outline the NFL's policies for retractable roofs. Sunday will be the fourth game the Bills have played this year in a stadium with a retractable roof -- University of Phoenix Stadium, Reliant Stadium, Lucas Oil Stadium, Rogers Centre.

NFL policy

The home team must declare 90 minutes before kickoff whether the roof will be open or closed for the game. After that, the referee will determine whether an open roof will be closed under two criteria: 1) hazardous conditions such as lightning or severe winds developing; or 2) rain.

The roof cannot be closed for rain after the five-minute mark of the fourth quarter, but it can be closed at any time for hazardous conditions.

Once a roof is closed, it must remain closed for the entire game.

Rogers Centre policy

In addition to the NFL's rules, the Rogers Centre has three criteria that spells out when the roof must be closed:

When the temperature is below 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit), there's a certain percentage likelihood of rain or when winds reach a certain threshold.

In other words, the roof almost certainly will be closed for any December game. The Bills cannot decide to replicate home-field conditions up yonder.

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |