The League

THE QUESTION

Toronto Bills?

Can the NFL succeed in Canada?

Posted by Emil Steiner on December 2, 2009 11:00 AM
FEATURED COMMENTS

CaptainJack1: As a Baltimore resident, I say NO. And this is why... At one time, Baltimore used to be the home of the Indianapolis Colts. That is, until ...

sjag1: Toronto does not have a NFL size-demanded stadium, the 55,000 Dome does not cut it. Toronto is really a hockey town, even when the Jays were...

reiflame1: CaptainJack1, I appreciate that you don't support it, but adding a team in Toronto would result in a drop in attendance of around 15% at Bil...

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ALL COMMENTS (12)
upstateweather Author Profile Page :

The Bills' first regular season game in Toronto, which was last year against the Miami Dolphins, had difficulty in selling out.

The venue is tremendous, though, because it offers an indoor (domed) stadium. It seems reasonable for the Bills to host one regular season game in Toronto on an annual basis, and it be one of the December home dates.

If they had the dome in downtown Buffalo, the games would always sellout. Furthermore, there would be quite the waiting list for season tickets. What would be even better for the western New York politicians to look into would be to have a dome built in Niagara Falls, NY, in which any Canadian fans could walk to the game over the bridge.

There is an antiquated parking garage nearby which could be demolished along with some other buildings. The price tag on this project would probably exceed the cost of Yankee Stadium, but the return to western New York and even Niagara Falls, Canada, would be more than long term profits for the Seneca Niagara Casino and those on the opposite side of the border.

The time to plan for a new Bills owner and stadium should be now in the few years left before Mr. Wilson ultimately passes on. It would not be dishonorable to Mr. Wilson to have the team in Niagara Falls, NY, but it would be if the Bills assumed new ownership following his death and the people behind that then moved the team out of the state of New York and the influence of southern Ontario, Canada.

One such grand plan should also incorporate a high speed rail system in which fans from throughout upstate New York could be transported from cities such as Syracuse and Rochester without having to wait in lines at Thruway tolls or attempting to commute during adverse weather in the closing weeks of a highly contentious playoff run.

Somewhere in this post someone may find a pipe dream --- is it the mecca of a Niagara Falls, NY domed stadium for the Bills or the thought of them ever being in the playoffs?

maurban Author Profile Page :

I'm from Buffalo, and remain a huge Bills fan. It is no secret within the city that Ralph plans on having the team move to Buffalo upon his death, as he has said on many occasions he does not want his kids to go into the biz. We Buffalo people have a kinship with out Toronto brethren, but this move would be disastrous for the franchise.

We have supported this team for over 40 years, through the ups and (mostly) downs. We love this team. If they leave, they won't be taking any fans with them. It is hard enough to love a losing team when they are from your home town, it is impossible to love one from another city that has given you the finger. We would just swear off football, like we have done baseball and basketball, and become the most insane Sabres' fans you have ever seen. Speaking of which, how 'bout stepping up Mr. Golisano and picking up a franchise? (Oh that's right, you left after we refused to let you buy the state senate)

We support this team, and will continue to do so. There is no need to leave. I do agree that a new downtown stadium, preferably domed, would sell out every game. The current stadium practically does already, even though it is 30 minutes away, old, uncomfortable, and often full of snow.

catmink Author Profile Page :

"Being a Buffalo Bills fan really isn't being a fan, it's a way of life." - Tim Russert

I second MAURBAN. The folks of Buffalo don't choose to be fans, you don't jump on the bandwagon in Buffalo. It's in your blood, it's part of you, you grow up with it and you're wedded to that team for better or worse, through good times and bad. That's why you sit on a block of ice in an outdoor stadium in late December freezing your buns off and LIKE IT. Love can make you crazy like that.

If the Bills leave town, even if it's just over the fence, then it's over. It'll be an amicable divorce, but a divorce just the same. And yes, Buffalonians will become the most insane hockey fans on earth.

I'm not asking for charity from the NFL upon Mr. Wilson's passing. Just some consideration for what built the NFL: the fans. I have faith that Roger Goodell will do the right thing. After all, he's from Buffalo too.

BlueSkyMan Author Profile Page :

Didn't Cananda pass a law many years ago during the USFL or WFL days making it difficult for an non-CFL team to be based in there?

levantine18 Author Profile Page :

Canada should only be able to take the Bills if they agree to take Buffalo too.

ademb Author Profile Page :

What Toronto craves is attention. This city is hard put to support its CFL Argonauts and AL Blue Jays. This city's NHL Maple Leafs and NBA Raptors haven't made the playoffs in years. The last thing Toronto needs is yet another non playoff team. Southern Ontario NFL fans should continue to support the Bills by driving to Orchard Park.

foodcritic101 Author Profile Page :

YES! Because I sell NFL jerseys. A lot of Bills jerseys to Toronto. Canada loves the Bills.

bobtich Author Profile Page :

The Roger's Centre holds 50,000 people and had to paper the house to fill the dome last year. The "Ralph" holds 72,000 people and sells out every game except for meaningless games in bad weather in late December with ten consecutive non-playoff teams. Jacksonville, in Florida, can't sell out for a winning team. Move Jacksonville to somewhere else and keep the Bills in the Buffalo area. A new stadium on some farmland near Buffalo in the direction of Rochester with a movable dome would sell out every game forever. The Bills put this deal over on Rogers and are reaping the benefits in big bucks. Putting them in Toronto would be like taking the Colts out of Baltimore or the Browns out of Cleveland. Except no team will ever surpass the Maple Leafs in Toronto's heart, unless it is some sport played by people from some other culture. As for L.A.,most of the people don't want a team, and only the megabucks guys with certain small body parts want to have a football team there.

glantern Author Profile Page :

As a Torbufchester resident, I could not see the team moving. Last year, I don't believe that they sold out, charged exorbitant fees to tailgate (which was frowned upon). It seems to be a bid by the NFL and perhaps Ralph to tap into some of the Rogers cable conglomorate millions. Even though Buffalo is considered a small market the fans are extremely loyal, and over the years they have developed many Canadian fans,but the outrageous Homeland Security rules would prevent many fans from going either way to cross the border. Who in their right mind would want to take their passport with them in order to get into a game. Also taking the team to Toronto would kill the CFL with teams in Hamilton (halfway) and Toronto.Besides if the team went to Toronto the local fans would not be able to watch the games because of NAFTA Sec. 8 Canadians protecting their exclusive TV rights. Here in Rochester, it is illegal to receive cable tv from Canada. That's even if the cable companies are even willing to carry it.

CaptainJack1 Author Profile Page :

As a Baltimore resident, I say NO. And this is why...

At one time, Baltimore used to be the home of the Indianapolis Colts. That is, until one night when the franchise upped and left for Indianapolis without ever turning back. For decades, there were many bitter and upset former Colts fans. Some people were able to remain Colts fans even after they left but they are far in between now. Most people supported the Redskins or the Steelers. Decades pass and we get the Baltimore Ravens at the expense of Cleveland temporarily losing the Browns which was not right either. As many of the previous commenters said, you are a fan for life. When a team just ups and leaves its fans for another area, it will lose it's core support indefinately.

What would be interesting is creating a new NFL franchise in Toronto. That way the Bills would have a new rival to compete against and would bring the Bills fans closer.

sjag1 Author Profile Page :

Toronto does not have a NFL size-demanded stadium, the 55,000 Dome does not cut it. Toronto is really a hockey town, even when the Jays were hot they were more of an "event" draw rather than a love of baseball for the Jays and the Raptors loose a ton of money each year and though the Bills are a nice distraction, I doubt it could get the support needed to flourish. In Canada, no government supports professional sports by building them stadia at the taxpayers expense as pro sports in the US have been able to finagle, the average Canadian taxpayer would never stand for it, hence another drawback to ever postioning a NFL team here. Besides give us good club and the Argonauts draw well. PS: We have been competing for The Grey Cup (aka the Grand National Drunk) emblematic of Canadian Football supremacy for 94 years. That traditon will not go away, sort of makes the Super Bowl a late comer....eh?

reiflame1 Author Profile Page :

CaptainJack1, I appreciate that you don't support it, but adding a team in Toronto would result in a drop in attendance of around 15% at Bills home games - a drop they can ill afford.

I'll just point out a few things that I've said in other places:

1) Ralph Wilson has promised to keep the Bills in Buffalo until his death. He may be 91 but he's not dead yet - don't jump the gun.

2) Toronto needs a buyer before they can get a team. Rogers Communications has been sponsoring the Toronto games, but since the NFL has rules against corporation owning teams, they won't be able to buy the Bills.

3) The NFL will most likely require that they build a new stadium in Toronto. At 54k seats, Rogers Centre is about 11k seats too small for league standards.

 
 
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