Buffalo Bills in Toronto (regular season)
|December 7, 2008||Miami 16||Buffalo 3||52,134|
|December 3, 2009||NY Jets 19||Buffalo 13||51,567|
|November 7, 2010||Chicago 22||Buffalo 19||50,746|
|October 30, 2011||Buffalo 23||Washington 0||51,579|
|December 16, 2012||Seattle 50||Buffalo 17||40,770|
|December 1, 2013||Atlanta 34||Buffalo 31 (OT)||38,969|
The end of the Bills Toronto series wasn't a surprise. The fact that the announcement was made around the time the game has been played lately is worth no more than an ironic look.
The Bills Toronto series had been suspended for 2014 after Rogers and the Buffalo Bills signed a second 5-year deal in January 2013.
The last straw was that Toronto was an afterthought when the Buffalo Bills were forced out of the city after a gigantic snowstorm last month. The Bills ended up at Detroit's Ford Field.
The argument at the time was that a Buffalo Bills game out of the hands of Rogers where the prices would not be obnoxious would show people that Toronto would support a NFL team under reasonable circumstances.
4 of the 6 games were in December, a time when casual fans aren't interested in a losing team. A game in November would have been a better opportunity for those NFL fans in Toronto.
Having a preseason game in Toronto would be a way to give thanks to a considerable portion of the fan base without sacrificing a regular season game. There are several problems with that plan. Passports would be an issue for players of both teams who might not even make the squad. August is already a busy time for Rogers Centre with the Blue Jays and squeezing in some Argonauts games.
The Argonauts should have a home at BMO Field but that stadium wouldn't be able to help the Bills in future possibilities. Rogers Centre was the smallest NFL home even when the crowds were over 50,000. While many in Toronto have talked about a NFL team, nothing in reality points to that prospect.
Rogers Centre wants the Argonauts out as soon as possible to convert the playing surface to grass. The Bills could have fit into the new Rogers Centre since fewer dates would overlap between the seasons. But an ineffective Bills team and Rogers greed were a fatal combination to end the Bills Toronto series.
The city would be well-suited to host various NFL teams in the way London, England does. So would Montréal (depending on the status of Olympic Stadium) or Vancouver. Canada has a lot of NFL fans; hopefully, the country will get a better way to showcase the NFL fan base.
In other Canadian football news, the Grey Cup drew 189,000 viewers on ESPN2. That number feels really low compared to some regular season numbers. Then again, the late Sunday slot has been a problem.
Hopefully, ESPN will find a way for all the playoff games to be on TV, getting U.S. viewers in a rhythm for the Grey Cup.