SBD/October 28, 2011/Franchises

Bills Expecting A Full House For Sunday's Game Against Redskins In Toronto

Bills have yet to win a regular-season game in Toronto in three attempts
The Bills have announced that Sunday's game against the Redskins at Rogers Centre in Toronto "will be seen on local television," according to Adam Benigni of WGRZ-NBC. Rogers Centre VP/Events Silvio D'addario said that ticket sales "have been better this season based on the Bills 4-2 start." He said, "There's a buzz in the city. There's a big NFL football game on Sunday and the city knows it. Our inventory level in most price points is either exceptionally low, or non-existent. We're going to have a full house on Sunday" (WGRZ.com, 10/27). Sunday will mark the "first time a winning Buffalo team has played a regular season game in Toronto" since the Bills began playing an annual game there three years ago (TORONTO STAR, 10/26). In Buffalo, Warner & Gaughan noted the game "comes amid speculation that any new Bills-Toronto agreement starting in 2013 would feature much more input and control from NFL officials." But Bills CEO Russ Brandon said that he "doesn't see the NFL running the games in Toronto." Brandon: "More enhanced, more league involvement potentially? Absolutely" (BUFFALO NEWS, 10/26).

NO PLACE LIKE HOME: The AP noted the deal to play in Toronto "already has paid off for the Bills." They get "about $9.75 million per game in Toronto, more than twice [what] they generate at Ralph Wilson Stadium" in Buffalo. The Bills also "have reported a large bump in season-ticket sales from fans across the border, who now represent about 15 percent of the team's base." The downside has "proven to be a general lack of interest the Bills have received in Toronto." Overpriced tickets -- "a majority of them more than $200 -- have made it difficult to draw fans to the 54,000-seat facility." And many who have shown up "either are NFL fans, who root for other teams, or are there to see the opposing team." Bills S George Wilson said, "The fan support in Toronto is a night-and-day difference from what we have in Buffalo. For the most part, it's a show. You see just as many jerseys for the opposing teams as you do the Bills. They cheer for any big play regardless of whichever team makes it" (AP, 10/26). In Toronto, Cathal Kelly writes it is "not clear if Wilson thinks all we do is watch hockey." Kelly: "If he does, he’s right. That is all we do any more. But this isn’t Pyongyang. The particulars of foreign cultures -- the rules of football, for instance -- have filtered through on pirate radio" (TORONTO STAR, 10/28). Also in Toronto, Doug Smith wrote, "No way people in Toronto can match the enthusiasm of a Bills crowd, won’t happen in a billion years." Smith continued, "They’re not the same kind of audience, not fuelled by the same passion, they haven’t been camped out in parking lots for hours getting ready. Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional" (THESTAR.com, 10/27).
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