Daily Archives: January 28, 2013

EXCLUSIVE: Bills-in-Toronto series indeed extended 5 years; announcement Tuesday

Russell

NEW ORLEANS – The Bills in Toronto series has indeed been extended for five more years.

As we reported exclusively eight months ago, the Buffalo Bills and Rogers Media are expected to announce on Tuesday that the NFL team will continue to play one regular-season home game per year in Toronto for the next five seasons, and one exhibition game only in that span.

That’s exactly what we reported in May.

The news is expected to be announced Tuesday at a mid-day news conference in Toronto. New Bills head coach Doug Marrone is expected to attend.

The long delay was caused by the club’s slow, complicated negotiations with various levels of government to extend its lease at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y. That process finally was completed last month when it was announced the club had agreed to a 10-year extension, on the promise of various stadium upgrades.

For obvious reasons, the club did not want to announce an extension of its Toronto series while the future of its local homefield lease remained unresolved.

So, as in the past five years, the Bills will relocate one of their eight regular-season home games to Toronto’s lake-front domed stadium, where the Bills have won only once so far – in 2011 against the Washington Redskins.

Last month, Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks blew out the Bills, 50-17 (Toronto Sun photo, above.). Two weeks later, the Bills fired head coach Chan Gailey and all of his assistant coaches.

What’s more, as reported here in May, ticket prices will remain significantly cheaper than those of the first four years of the series. Rogers announced price reductions last July for the game last month.

The Bills made a killing from the original five-year deal. Rogers paid the club $78 million for five regular-season and two pre-season games – a shot into the Bills’ coffers of $11.14 million per game, more than double what the team clears from each home game at Ralph Wilson Stadium, according to a Buffalo News report.

Neither side is expected to reveal on Tuesday how much Rogers is paying the Bills for the five-year extension, but a source in May said the amount would be “significantly” less than $78 million.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell last year said the Bills-in-Toronto extension would be “a great thing” for both the franchise and NFL fans in New York and Ontario.

Many Bills players last month, however, did not share that view – as the games in Toronto, for them, play more like a neutral-site game than a home game.

Indeed, hundreds if not thousands of fans last month cheered on the Seahawks. That predicament likely would end if the Bills would start making the playoffs again – which the club hasn’t done since the 1990s.