BY DAN BEGNOCHE
Rogers Media and the Buffalo Bills organization inked a new deal on Tuesday that ensures the team will play at least one home game in Toronto for each of the next five years.
Whether the groans of players and fans could be heard all the way across the border, however, has yet to be confirmed. (photo: Giovanni Variottinelli)
Despite overwhelming disapproval from the Bills faithful over the past couple years, Buffalo CEO Russell Brandon and Rogers Media President Keith Pelley touted their deal as a major part of the team’s regional revitalization. Brandon said Tuesday that as long as the team can start to come up with some wins up north, their fan base among Canadians will only get larger.
“Our regionalization efforts have strengthened the franchise’s foothold in Western New York by supporting our efforts to further develop our fan base in Toronto and Southern Ontario,” Brandon told reporters. “The Bills-Rogers Media partnership continues to give us tremendous exposure in the market and its success will only accelerate with a few wins on the field.”
One thing that’s sure to get larger is the Bills’ bank account. According to the Associated Press, the previous deal with Rogers was worth nearly $80 million, and television audiences in Canada grew during throughout the length of the contract. The team’s record at its home away from home didn’t get much help, however, finishing 1-4 through the previous deal.
Buffalo center Eric Wood was most vocal about the deal last season, stating that he thought the plan was, “a joke.” Wood echoed the thoughts of a majority of players and fans by saying he thought the games put the Bills at a disadvantage. Visiting teams got off the hook by playing at a venue clearly not as loud or intimidating as Ralph Wilson Stadium.
"Nobody wants to play there," Wood said at the time. "I guess for opposing teams it beats the hell out of going in somebody else's stadium and dealing with a bunch of crowd noise.
"It's a bad atmosphere for football."
Bad or not, the deal seems here to stay. The current extension is set to expire in 2017.
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