This past Sunday, the Buffalo Bills played a “home” game in Toronto. It was the third straight year they played a game north of the border.
Corporations are not allowed to own NFL franchises, but that didn’t stop Rogers Communications from giving the Bills $78 million to move eight of their home games (5 regular season, 3 preseason) to Toronto’s Rogers Centre. Nearly $10 million per game is quite a windfall for the league’s worst team, as that figure is estimated to be twice what the Bills make for a home game in Buffalo.
The move was made to show the NFL that Toronto could be a future home to an NFL franchise. But is the experiment working? Not according to attendance. The Bills are yet to sell out a game in Toronto. And for the the second consecutive season, attendance is actually down…
And even though Toronto can’t sell out these games, Rogers Communications still hopes to extend the partnership with the Bills with the possibility of hosting more than one regular season game per season.
This shows that Rogers Communications is still intent on someday bringing an NFL franchise to The Queen City. While they can’t be part of the ownership, they would undoubtedly love having a team calling the Rogers Centre, or some yet-to-be-built facility, home (current league rules require that any new stadiums have a seating capacity of at least 65,000).
There is some hope for Toronto. It is estimated that about 11,000 fans at each Bills home game in Buffalo are from southern Ontario. But with the Bills unable to sell-out the 54,000-seat Rogers Centre, there is no reason to think Toronto would ever be a viable home for an NFL franchise.
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