SBD/June 24, 2011/Franchises

Bills Intend To Keep Playing Games In Toronto In Order To Build Regional Presence

Playing games in Toronto still part of Bills' long-term plans
Bills CEO Russ Brandon Thursday said the team's regionalization has "really been the linchpin to the future of our franchise." During an appearance on WGR-AM's "The Howard Simon Show" in Buffalo, Brandon said his main responsibility is "keeping this franchise viable." He added, "Though it came with a lot criticism, that is the exact focus on what the Toronto relationship is about. When you look at the region … you’re one of the largest markets in the league when you put that altogether and … it was as much about bringing the fans to Ralph Wilson Stadium from the southern Ontario marketplace as it was the initiative to bring the brand above the border." Brandon said continuing to play games in Toronto is "definitely a part of our long-term thinking" because it will "take awhile to build a brand in a brand-new marketplace." Brandon said the Bills are "very healthy" and added, "We have to work hard here in Buffalo to sell tickets, to sell suites, to sell sponsorships. ... We need to continue to keep the building full, to keep the suites sold, to continue to drive our sponsorship revenue. It’s very important because we’re a volume business." Brandon added Bills Owner Ralph Wilson is "committed to this region and committed to Buffalo and that's what we're focused on." He said he does not believe AEG contacted the Bills about possibly relocating to L.A. Brandon: "We're very happy here in Buffalo and we're focused on Buffalo." Meanwhile, Brandon discussed possible naming rights for Ralph Wilson Stadium, and he said it is "not as simple as saying, 'Hey, just throw up your naming rights and you get this amount of revenue." He noted the team has sold naming rights to the team's fieldhouse and said, "We're very well positioned with our revenues and ... our corporate sponsorship" ("The Howard Simon Show," WGR-AM, 6/23).

DAYS OF THE NEW: The Bills Friday night will unveil their new uniforms, and Brandon noted, "It's been a long time coming." He said, "Any time you change any element of the uniform, it's an 18-month lead time with the NFL. This has been in the works actually beyond 18 months." In Buffalo, Mark Gaughan notes the Bills have worn their current uniforms since '02, though the team "introduced a 1960s-style throwback home uniform in 2005." Brandon said, "The throwback uniforms definitely played a large role in the thought process. They've been enormously popular." However, Gaughan notes the throwbacks "will not be worn this season" (BUFFALO NEWS, 6/24). Brandon noted the team has "distributed over 17,000 tickets" for Friday's launch event. He said of the uniform change, "We just want to get back to our storied tradition while we still highlight our brand" ("The Howard Simon Show," WGR-AM, 6/23).
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