Bills owner declines commitment to Buffalo

Discussion in ' - Patriots Fan Forum' started by Gunnails, Feb 8, 2008.

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  1. Gunnails

    Gunnails In the Starting Line-Up

    No Jersey Selected

    TORONTO (AP) -- Ralph Wilson is convinced Toronto is ready to support an NFL franchise. The Buffalo Bills owner wouldn't say whether that team might one day be his.

    Wilson steered clear from discussing whether the Bills would ever relocate north of the border. "Don't worry right now," was the best answer he could provide at a news conference Wednesday announcing the Bills would begin playing an annual regular-season game in Toronto beginning this season through 2012.

    Based on what Wilson saw during a half-hour drive from the airport to a downtown hotel, he was convinced Canada's financial capital and North America's fifth largest sports market was ready for the NFL.

    "I can answer that in the affirmative," Wilson said. "It reminds me of my trip to Dallas a few months ago. They're building in Dallas, Texas, everywhere, cranes, brand-new structures. And I see the same thing here in Toronto."

    It was certainly a different view than what he usually sees in economically challenged Buffalo

    "It's no secret, Buffalo is diminishing in size," Wilson said.

    Asked then to assure Bills fans he's committed to keeping the team in Buffalo, the 89-year-old declined to guess.

    "Hey, I can't speculate what's going to happen in the future," Wilson said. "But don't worry. Don't worry right now. Does that answer your questions?"

    Toronto will formally land on the NFL map later this year, when the Bills become the league's first franchise to play an annual regular season game outside the United States. The deal also includes the Bills playing three preseason games -- one every other year, starting this year -- in Toronto.

    Dates have yet to be announced.

    The games would be played at the downtown Rogers Centre, a domed stadium with a retractable roof and home of the Toronto Blue Jays.

    Wilson stressed the team's decision to expand its market to Toronto was one out of necessity and considered a chance for the small-market franchise to generate much-needed additional revenue.

    "We've overturned all the rocks in western New York," Wilson said. "We've got to do something so we looked this way to the north and we came up with some great partners."

    Those partners are Blue Jays owner Ted Rogers and Larry Tanenbaum, chairman of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors.

    The two have formed a partnership to pursue an NFL franchise. The deal with the Bills is considered their first concrete step toward achieving that goal, and an opportunity to showcase Toronto's potential to the league.

    The deal with the Bills wouldn't preclude Rogers and Tanenbaum from making bids to buy and relocate other NFL franchises if they go up for sale.

    Rogers said he is focused on working with the Bills over the next five years, and described speculation of the franchise relocating to Toronto as "exaggerated hooey."

    "We didn't say we weren't interested, and we didn't say that we were," Rogers said. "This is good for everybody."

    The next step is completing the financial terms of the deal to determine how much the Bills will be compensated for leasing the eight games to Rogers and Tanenbaum. Under the agreement, the Bills will provide their team, the NFL will provide an opponent, while Rogers Centre will be responsible for selling tickets, concessions and promoting the event.

    Without going into detail, Rogers made no secret that ticket prices will be expensive.

    "We're going to charge high rates and we're going to have all the seats sold," Rogers said.

    When it was noted that there would be some tickets would be available for under $100, Rogers held up two fingers and said, "Two," drawing a laugh from the crowd.

    Reports have speculated that tickets would be sold for an average $250 per seat. Bills tickets at Ralph Wilson Stadium, by comparison, average about $46.

    The Bills first approached Rogers and Tanenbaum last summer about the possibility of playing games in Toronto.
  2. Wildo7

    Wildo7 Totally Full of It

    Toronto "Bills" doesn't really mean anything. That would mean there'd be a new expansion team-type name involving some kind of ferocious animal. I vote for the Toronto Bumble Bees.
  3. blackglass3

    blackglass3 Supporter Supporter

    #11 Jersey

    Toronto Maple Jays?

    Swing and a miss.
  4. Wildo7

    Wildo7 Totally Full of It

    Anyway you look at it, if this happens, Toronto will have the worst collection of sports teams names in the country
  5. upstater1

    upstater1 Pro Bowl Player

    Don't be so certain the Bills are moving there.
    There are franchises in bigger trouble.

    Just look at the gross revenues and # tickets sold and compare to Jax or other franchises.
  6. djspaz

    djspaz Rookie

    Jacksonville is a complete joke, considering the talent on that team compared to the support they are getting.
  7. Wildo7

    Wildo7 Totally Full of It

    Maybe they can move the Jaguars to New England, thereby doubling our chance to win a Superbowl. We won't cheer for them but if they beat the Jets in the Superbowl, we'll brag about it like it was the Pats that beat them.
  8. Canadian Patriot

    Canadian Patriot On the Roster

    Yeah go Canada!

    aha aw man, I want a NFL franchise here so bad...
  9. eom

    eom In the Starting Line-Up

    toronto fire ants
  10. blackglass3

    blackglass3 Supporter Supporter

    #11 Jersey

    So it would be the New England Jaguars? I guess that's fair, there are as many Jaguars in New ENgland as there are in Jacksonville.

    And your last line was pretty damn accurate.
  11. IcyPatriot

    IcyPatriot ------------- Supporter

    #24 Jersey

    "The Toronto Baconators"

    :bricks: How about the :eek: Toronto Frogs... :bricks:
  12. DropKick Flutie

    DropKick Flutie On the Game Day Roster

    Just because Wilson threw the city of Buffalo under the bus, doesn't mean the Bills are leaving. They are making this move with Toronto to make more money for the team, and also to make it easier on the fan base to afford season tickets with 1 or 2 less games to buy every year. The Bills are staying in Buffalo as long as Wilson is alive.

    After Ralph dies... who knows? His kids don't want the team, so it would be up for sale by the estate.
  13. eom

    eom In the Starting Line-Up

    you must work in pr.
  14. Halifax_Pats_Fan

    Halifax_Pats_Fan In the Starting Line-Up

    i don't understand why the League is not already in that market. The GTA is well over 5 Million, it would do very very well in TO....

    ...asm much as TO annoys the hell out of me, Wilson or any other owner would makes tonnes of cash there....
  15. unoriginal

    unoriginal In the Starting Line-Up

    Of course they're eyeing Toronto. Them guys ain't dumb.

    Can you imagine what would happen to that franchise if another team, say the Jags, up and moved to Toronto? The Bills would never be able to televise a home game in western New York again.

    I've driven a couple times on the 401 in Ontario. Either they get the Buffalo stations clear as a bell because of the water, or they're rebroadcasting Bills training camp stuff during CFL season in Toronto. Either way they get a surprising number of Canadian callers.
  16. upstater1

    upstater1 Pro Bowl Player

    Huh? Wha? This makes no sense.

    Maybe 5-10% of the fans come from the FT Erie-St Catherines area, at best.

    Barely any from Toronto.

    Also, the Canadians who do come can make it over in 15 minutes to 30 minutes to the stadium. It would take them 1 1/2 hours to get to Toronto at best, if not more on a gameday. Granted, they'd probably become fans of Toronto, but Buffalo is right next door. You can swim to Buffalo from the town that most of the Canadian fans live in.

    I doubt that 5% loss in tickets is going to make a big difference. Not to mention the culture of Ft Erie-St Cath's is completely different from Toronto.

    If you take the Buffalo-Rochester area (55 minute drive from one to the other, about as far as Worcester-Providence-Boston), you have 2.6 million people, which is on the low end for metro areas in the NFL, but then again, there aren't many areas w/o teams that have a bigger population.
  17. DropKick Flutie

    DropKick Flutie On the Game Day Roster

    What you say is fairly accurate. Though I would say 20% of the fanbase at the games is Canadian, making 5% from the Toronto area.
  18. RobAllan

    RobAllan Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

    #12 Jersey

    They're really going to go crazy with ticket prices- makes me sad. I've yet to go to a sporting event at the Rogers Center because of it... People from here aren't stupid. If they can go see a Bills game for $50 in Buffalo they'll drive there. (Honestly, they already do.) I know those tickets will sell in year 1, but I'm curious how it goes in year 2 and 3. And I'm more curious what they could charge if the team was here regularly. Based on Leafs ticket prices... they'd probably charge more. Grrrr.
  19. I went to the 2006 game. The Hampton Inn downtown was filled both nights with Toronto people.

    One would think they could build a new facility in the Niagra Falls area and serve the entire region. Orchard Park is tough going in and out.

    We really enjoyed the weekend and ticket prices a Ralph Wilson do not require a second mortgage.
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