SBD/December 11, 2012/Franchises

Bills On Verge Of Selling Out Toronto Game For First Time In Five-Year History

Bills' pricing structure, entertainment value credited for increase in sales
The Bills are “on the verge of selling out a regular season game in Toronto for the first time in the team’s five-year history in the city,” according to Steve Ladurantaye of the GLOBE & MAIL. About 85% of the 45,000 seats in the Rogers Centre “have been sold" for Sunday's game against the Seahawks. Bills in Toronto Series Exec Dir Greg Albrecht said that ticket sales are “well ahead of previous years,” and the number sold puts them “within striking range of a sellout.” Albrecht: “This year seems stronger -- there’s a lot more interest because of the pricing structure which helped a lot and the entertainment value is pretty strong as well.” Rogers Communications, which owns the stadium and runs the series, said that its “pregame street festival and its Gangam Style-halftime show seem to have sparked interest.” With the NHL season suspended, Rogers “hopes to convince some hockey fans to wander to the Rogers Centre.” Albrecht: “The NFL and NHL are potentially different fan bases, but I’m sure there are a few NHL fans dying for some sports” (GLOBE & MAIL, 12/8). In Toronto, Alex Ballingall notes Bills fans “offer a mix of outright anger and begrudging acceptance at the Bills hosting games in Toronto.” Many fans in Buffalo said that they “refuse to attend Toronto games, where stricter outdoor liquor laws prohibit the same unbridled pre-game rowdiness seen in Orchard Park” (TORONTO STAR, 12/11).

SCHEDULE MAKERS UNKIND? In Buffalo, Donn Esmonde noted four of the Bills' eight home games this season "are, you guessed it, in December.” This "all but ensures that the games will not sell out, which hurts the team.” Games that do not sell out are not televised in the Buffalo market, "which ticks off fans and deprives advertisers of ‘eyes.’” It is a “vicious cycle that the NFL seems intent on perpetuating.” The heavy December home schedule "is not a one-year exception,” as it is the “fourth season in the past five that at least three home games were played on or after Nov. 30th.” The Bills "should play no more than two late-season home games, one in Toronto” (BUFFALO NEWS, 12/9).
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