Brandon's Comments On Bills' Toronto Series Seen As Revealing Discord In Situation
Bills President & CEO Russ Brandon's comments yesterday regarding his plan to review the team's Toronto Series "served as an acknowledgement to fans, as well as his own players, that the team has yet to establish a noticeable home-field advantage in Toronto's Rogers Centre," according to Mark Gaughan of the BUFFALO NEWS. Still, the Bills "have four years remaining on their deal to play in Canada, and there is no expectation inside the organization they are going to try to break the deal." The club's contract with Rogers Communications "is a money-maker," as over the first five years, the team got an average of about $9.75M a game, "roughly double" what it would gross at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The new deal "is for less, but the exact terms have not been released." It is "hard to imagine the team paying to get out of a profitable contract." The Bills fell to 1-5 in regular-season games in Toronto with Sunday's loss to the Falcons, and the atmosphere in the dome "was not good" for the team as there were "roughly as many fans wearing Falcons jerseys as those wearing Bills jerseys." Bills coach Doug Marrone said that he "viewed an evaluation of the Toronto deal as standard operating procedure" (BUFFALO NEWS, 12/5). In Rochester, Sal Maiorana writes of Sunday's game, "Although the crowd wasn't completely behind the Bills, this seemed like the most pro-Bills crowd to date." That was "largely due to the fact that the Bills started well, led most of the way, and the game was exciting as it went to overtime." But there is "no doubt the Bills lose their true home-field advantage and an argument can be made very easily that had that game been played in Orchard Park, outside in the elements ... they would have won in a runaway" (ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE, 12/5).
PULL THE PLUG? QMI AGENCY's John Kryk writes it is time for the Bills and Rogers to "pull the plug" on the Toronto Series. They "gave it a good try, but it's just not working." The series "has been a failure for every party involved," and some "would say an embarrassing failure." It is "difficult after six years of Bills-in-Toronto to view the series as anything but a lose-lose-lose-lose-lose-lose scenario for the six parties involved: the Bills, Rogers, the Rogers Centre, Toronto, Western New York and the NFL" (QMI AGENCY, 12/4). In Toronto, Steve Buffery writes, "This droop-fest of an event has become an embarrassment, and if there was any thought this money-grab of a series would somehow help pave the way for a permanent NFL team in Toronto, well that's been shot to hell." If anything, it has "hurt the cause." Buffery: "You think the NFL poobahs were impressed with the 38,969 fans at the Rogers Centre last Sunday? ... I say good riddance to the Bills in Toronto." All it has "really done is expand anger and resentment towards Toronto." Bills fans in Buffalo "aren't happy losing a regular-season game every year and having to drive up to the antiseptic Rogers Centre, where there's no real tail-gating, the atmosphere inside the dome pales in comparison to Ralph Wilson Stadium, and it costs an arm and a leg for a weenie" (TORONTO SUN, 12/5). Also in Toronto, Cathal Kelly writes, "Based on last Sunday's showing, no one in Toronto gives a good goddamn" about the Bills. But it is "more than that," as the city of Toronto has "turned on the team." There is a "growing gang-up mentality," and it is "hard to tell if this is a reaction to the Bills themselves, or Rogers, or the NFL" (TORONTO STAR, 12/5).