Buffalo Bills Drop Toronto Game in 2014
TORONTO – The Buffalo Bills recently extended their deal with Canada's Rogers Media to drive up the road and play a home game each year in Toronto.
Now the NFL club is backpedaling on that five-year extension, which runs through 2017.
In a joint statement released on Wednesday morning by the Bills and Rogers Media, the NFL club confirmed it will drop the Toronto game in 2014.
"As such, we have postponed for one year the scheduled 2014 regular-season game at Rogers Centre in Toronto, and that game will return to Ralph Wilson Stadium. We will use this time to collectively evaluate opportunities to enhance future games," said Russ Brandon, president and CEO of the Buffalo Bills, and Keith Pelley, Rogers Media president.
The decision to play all eight games at home in western New York was first reported in the Buffalo News newspaper.
Buffalo’s long playoff drought didn't help ticket sales in Toronto as none of the team’s previous six regular-season games at Rogers Centre sold out.
And the Bills winning only one of those six games has apparently left the NFL team asking whether it loses a competitive edge by playing across the border in Canada.
Leaving the Bills' presence in Toronto in limbo is also a blow to Rogers Media, as parent Rogers Communications holds minority stakes in the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, and covets bringing the first NFL franchise to Canada.
To give cross-border Canadian fans a bigger presence in Buffalo, a new sponsorship agreement for the 2014 season includes ticketing, merchandising, media exposure and a newly created Canada House near Ralph Wilson Stadium to serve as the official pre-game Canadian tailgate zone for all home games.