Time for another chapter in the Toronto seriezzzzzzzzzzz

Bills owner Ralph Wilson made a pretty shrewd move four years ago when he brokered a deal with the city of Toronto to host a game every year for the following five seasons with the city.  It was a pretty good deal for the Bills when you consider that they got paid up front.  That means it didn’t matter what the gate was, that’s all on the Rogers Centre.  And of course in turn it meant that the Rogers Centre doesn’t care what kind of atmosphere there is in the stadium, as long as there is any atmosphere.  That means fans of different teams will just trot in from the street to watch a football game.  And trust me, it hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“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” Bills starting safety and captain told reporters earlier this week when asked about the games in Toronto.  The feeling is ever more exasperated when you are a 4-2 team and the Ralph has been as raucous as it’s been in years during the home games in the early portion of the season.  This just seems like a letdown for the home town team.  Football teams are supposed to have a home field advantage.  Giving up that one game of home field advantage could prove crucial for a team during a playoff run, which the Bills are in right now.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Toronto is a very nice city and the Rogers Centre is a pretty good place to watch a game, a baseball game at least.  I’ve been there before and it’s definitely amenable.  But for a home football game in October, I’m not so sure.

The deal does have it’s advantages for the Bills, as evidenced by James Walker of the ESPN AFC East blog this week (Wilson’s blog).  The aforementioned up-front money will tally 78 million dollars by time the deal is up, totalling 9.75 million dollars a game.  That is more than half that the Bills makes in one game at the Ralph.  The Bills also have had an increase of season ticket holders from north of the border since the deal went down, now making 15% of the base.  That’s not a bad number for a team trying to regionalize and stay put.  But that doesn’t help the game day atmosphere that so far has been abysmal.

Of course it doesn’t help that the Bills are 0-3 so far in the Toronto series and have been a team that has finished under .500 in each of the first three years of the deal.  Maybe the switch goes on, if not this year then next year, due to fielding an improved, competitive team.  Maybe that was the trick all along.  Nevertheless fans better get used to it because as the Bills negotiate a long term lease with Erie County that will likely keep the Bills in Buffalo long term, the Toronto game will be a big money making option that looks to go along with it.  Perhaps a necessary evil?  Or maybe a bit of wishful thinking, an actual 12th man shows up at the Centre?

Twitter @ErikVenskus


About evonsports
30 year old sports enthusiast and aspiring writer from Boston.

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