Of course, you can never confirm much until all the chips are on the table.
With an agreement expected to be finalized within a few months, official word on the next few seasons of Bills in Toronto will be confirmed by both parties. While Russ Brandon’s proclamation will likely hold true, there is always the chance for amendments and additions to this sort of series. Maybe it won’t happen with this next set, but what about the set of games after that?
The Toronto series hasn’t necessarily taken off just yet. While the Bills have little interest in the fan turnout and experience – they’re getting paid either way – Rodgers Centre has yet to be packed to the gills for one of these contests. In fact, many have reported that the visiting teams are often the ones getting the most support. The Bills struggles have certainly played a role in the poor support in Toronto to this point, but there is little that would indicate any change in many trends at Rodgers Centre.
While Toronto isn’t likely an anti-Bills town, it is a city with a massive number of citizens. Because of this, there is far more room for different allegiances to be formed and there is also the likelihood of NFL and football fans to come out as opposed to strictly Bills fans. Think of it the same way the Canadian season ticket holders at Sabres games are. Most of them are there for the hockey more than they are for the home team.
Filling that stadium is likely a long shot for a few reasons, most of which have been listed above. Aside from last season, the Toronto series game had very little meaning for the Bills. This is the first season – aside from T.O. – that the team entered the year with any sort of hype. Based on the game’s location on the schedule, there is still a big question mark about where the Bills will be when they head across the Peace Bridge. Factor in the interest level for most fans in Toronto and there is a pretty good chance that many would pass on the game.
The best part of this whole thing is the financial windfall the Bills. They’re getting paid either way. While the team loses a home game and has to deal with a three-quarters full stadium two hours away as a sacrifice; the Bills still benefit with their yearly bottom line. One argument that can be drawn is the Rodgers deal has allowed the Bills to be a bit more flexible with spending on player contracts.
The idea of moving and additional game to Toronto each year doesn’t necessarily play, not for me. Reason being, at what point does this stop being a slight inconvenience for fans and start being a detriment for those who wish to buy tickets? Right now season ticket holders are on the hook for one less game and likely don’t see as much of a difference during the season while likely enjoying the extra funds in their wallets. However, if ticket holders were asked to drop another game, there is a distinct possibility that their opinions would head south in a hurry. This type of agreement toes a very delicate line which would likely be crossed if another game was added.
Enough fans are mad enough at the thought of Toronto encroaching on regular season games. Having them poach another game wouldn’t just add fuel to the fire, but it might indicate an impending move for some.
The Bills surely know better than to ship more than one game away from Ralph Wilson Stadium on a yearly basis. The potential fallout could have more of a negative effect than anything that extra game might create. The few new season ticket holders created by the Toronto series with just one game probably isn’t that noticeable and a second game wouldn’t likely bring about much more interest. However, taking another game away from an already disgruntled, playoff starved fanbase would likely bring about a large amount of negative feedback.
The organization is surely aware of such a scenario and will more than likely avoid instituting any sort of addition to this agreement which would indicate to fans any sort of additional pull towards Toronto.
Of course, the threat of that second game could potentially galvanize the necessary interest from an ownership group to ensure the franchise’s security in Buffalo.