Sports
1:52 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Bills extend Toronto series for another five years

The Buffalo Bills and Rogers Media on Tuesday announced an extension of the 'Bills in Toronto' series for another five years.

Details of the renewed partnership were unveiled Tuesday afternoon in Toronto. The Bills will play one regular season game at Rogers Centre each season over the next five years and one preseason game in 2015.

Listen to Tuesday's news conference featuring Rogers Media President Keith Pelley, Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon, Head Coach Doug Marrone, and Rogers Media Executive Director of Bills in Toronto Greg Albrecht.

The original five-year, $78 million deal signed in 2008 was completed this past season. It is unclear how much Rogers will pay under the new extension.

"This is all about us delivering world-class premium content," said Rogers Media President Keith Pelley. "The appetite for the National Football League, the appetite for the Buffalo Bills is here in Toronto."

Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon says playing in Toronto is part of the organization's strategy to regionalize its brand.

"Over 10 years ago we went east and moved our training camp to Rochester, and we've reaped the benefits of that. This agreement is no different. We're like many other businesses in Buffalo, especially in the entertainment industry and the tourism industry, that Southern Ontario and Toronto are very important to their businesses. We are no different than that," Brandon said.

Brandon said over the last five years, the team's Ontario fan base at Ralph Wilson Stadium has grown from 11 percent to over 20 percent, which he said was a primary goal at the outset of the partnership.

"We've had population decline [and] we're had corporate decline for many, many years and we would be remiss if we were not trying to actively continue to build our brand in Southern Ontario [and] into Rochester to keep the viability of this franchise in Western New York for decades and generations to come."

The Bills haven't had much success in their games north of the border, winning only one of five regular season games. Both Brandon and head coach Doug Marrone, who also attended the news conference, stressed the need for the team to perform better on the field in order to fully realize the Toronto relationship.

Next season's opponent will be determined by the league when the schedule is announced in April.  Ticket prices will remain consistent with last year's game. Below-capacity attendance, uncompetitive games, and high ticket prices have been issues over the life of the series.