SBD/September 17, 2012/Franchises

Bills Could Schedule Additional Regular-Season Games In Toronto; Deal Expected Soon

Bills could play eight regular-season games in Toronto over next five years
Bills fans can "expect there to be more” regular season games in Toronto, as the Bills "want to strengthen their footprint” in Southern Ontario, according to Mark Gaughan of the BUFFALO NEWS. A finalized deal “eventually will be announced by November or December, at the latest.” Gaughan wrote, “All signs that I can see point to more than five regular season games over five years.” An extension of the Bills' deal with Rogers Communications to continue playing games in Toronto was approved by the NFL Int'l Committee in May. Because Toronto “doesn't want any exhibition games,” the way to “pump up the deal for the next five years” is to give more regular season games to Rogers. Gaughan: “Eight regular-season games over five years? A 2-1-2-1-2 scenario? Don't be surprised if it ends up something like that, give or take a game.” Meanwhile, a “subplot to the Toronto partnership is the Bills' season-ticket sales total" for ‘12. The 43,267 figure in '12 marks a 16% increase over ’11. However, the ‘11 total was “depressed by the lockout,” and the ‘12 total “came after the Bills had arguably the best spending offseason in their history,” including deals for DE Mario Williams, WR Stevie Johnson, DE Mark Anderson and RB Fred Jackson. Yet the ‘12 total “still is below” the 44,084 sold in '10, and “ranks seventh over the last 10 years” (BUFFALO NEWS, 9/16).

STADIUM ISSUES STILL UP IN THE AIR: In Rochester, Leo Roth wrote of the Bills' likely agreement with Erie County for a one-year lease extension on Ralph Wilson Stadium, "Following an NFL trend, the Bills will help pay for improvements." But “given the dynamics of ownership, who pays what, how, for how long?" Roth: "Would a new owner not want a new stadium all together?” The Bills “could agree with the stipulation a new owner can’t move the club until the lease expires.” That decision “makes the team less desirable on the open market but it’s the right thing to do if public money is accepted, the right thing to do for their fans.” If the team wants a lease “with no strings attached, the Bills, like any company leasing a building and looking to grow, should pay for most if not all of the stadium renovations themselves, recoup the costs in the price tag of their business, and reap the additional revenue in the interim that the upgrades bring” (ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE, 9/16).
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