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).
The Sabres said that they will "host a 'tailgate tent party' in the plaza area adjacent to First Niagara Center" prior to their games, according to James Fink of BUSINESS FIRST OF BUFFALO. The tailgates will be presented by Labatt Blue Light. The Sabres "constructed a 3,200-square-foot tent that will be heated in the winter months." Live music will be "presented in the tent as will other Sabres-related special events." The official grand opening will take place before Saturday's game against the Panthers. The tent will open at 5:00pm ET and "will remain open until the start of every home game." Tickets will be "required to enter the pregame parties." Fans attending the game can "purchase $10 standalone tickets or opt to buy a special ticket package for $55, which includes a 300 Level-II game ticket and admission to the tent." Access to the tent parties will be "restricted to fans" who are 21 or older. The admission ticket "includes a coupon for one beverage" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 10/27).
WPS decided it was “pulling the plug on Boca Raton-based magicJack on Thursday, ending months of bickering between the league and club owner Dan Borislow,” according to Hal Habib of the PALM BEACH POST. The league in a statement said its BOG voted to terminate the franchise "after careful consideration." WPS “didn't respond to repeated requests for elaboration on why the six-team league eliminated” the club. Borislow on Thursday said, "Normally, you go through due process before you announce a death sentence. It doesn't make any sense they would announce this this morning." magicJack included several “key players" who led the U.S. to second place in this summer's Women's World Cup, including G Hope Solo and F Abby Wambach. Borislow said that he “will continue to be involved in women's soccer.” He said he is working on "something I think would be a lot better for me and a lot better for soccer and the community" (PALM BEACH POST, 10/28). In Miami, Michelle Kaufman notes WPS and “some of the team’s players, accused Borislow of not meeting league standards of professionalism.” The team, which reached the semifinals of the WPS playoffs, was “docked a point in the standings for not complying with league rules regarding facilities, marketing, signage and sponsorship” (MIAMI HERALD, 10/28). Borislow in an e-mail wrote, “I could not persuade most of the other Governors and the league for what I thought the priorities of the league should be.” He added, “The league continues to cause permanent damage and now taken away our ability to even sell the franchise, all without due process. MagicJack and myself will do everything we can to help our Women bring home the Gold next year [at the London Olympics]” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 10/27).
An objection filed by the IRS with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court is "not expected to derail the sale of the Dallas Stars to Vancouver businessman Tom Gaglardi." Sources Thursday said that the objection was filed "because the IRS wants to be consistent with its actions in an earlier bankruptcy case involving" the MLB Rangers. Both the Rangers and the Stars "were owned by Tom Hicks through his company Hicks Sports Group and both wound up in bankruptcy court with a total debt" of $500M. The Dow Jones Daily Bankruptcy Review reported that the IRS is asking that the court "reject the sale plan because there is no provision for its rights, which includes full payment on any tax claims." However, the sources said that this "does not present a problem because little money is involved and it will be worked out by lawyers for the NHL and the Stars’ creditors" (GLOBEANDMAIL.com, 10/27).
NEW RIGHT-HAND MAN: The Raptors Thursday morning introduced Ed Stefanski as their new Exec VP/Basketball Operations at a news conference at Air Canada Centre. In Toronto, Robert MacLeod noted Stefanski will report to the club's President & GM Bryan Colangelo and "will be considered Colangelo's right-hand man." Colangelo said that "unless he is run over by a beer truck, he's not planning on leaving the organization anytime soon." If and when that time comes, Colangelo "believes Stefanski has the capabilities to step in and run the team" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/28).
SPEAKING TO THE FANS: The GUARDIAN's Amy Lawrence notes EPL club Arsenal Owner Stan Kroenke for the first time "felt willing and able" to speak to shareholders directly at an annual meeting. It has taken "more than four years, during which he was connected to the club first as a business partner, then investor, now majority shareholder, for him to actually introduce himself to the masses." A five-minute speech "did not give much away." Lawrence wrote, "The gist was more or less this: Here I am. I don’t mind saying a few words seeing as you obviously wanted the gesture. I like what this club stands for. I am happy to be here. And I am not going anywhere in a hurry" (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 10/27).
WORKING TO END BLACKOUTS: In Cincinnati, John Kiesewetter notes Bengals fan Scott Sander and his friends "started Bengalsblackoutlifters.com, a website soliciting support from businesses and fans to fill Paul Brown Stadium so home games can air on TV." In 10 days, 647 people "had visited the site." The goal is to "bring together a group of individuals, sports bar owners and corporate sponsors ... (to) purchase Bengal tickets to help achieve a sold-out home game and lift NFL blackouts in the Cincinnati viewing area." So far, the site is "only collecting contact information" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 10/28).