Buffalo Bills finalize deal to play in Toronto

We'll take a quick break from our assembling of a needs list this morning to talk about the Buffalo Bills' agreement to play football in Toronto. The Buffalo News is reporting that no specifics to the deal have yet been announced, the deal is a 5-year pact calling for one regular season game, and three pre-season games total, to be played in Canada.

As I've mentioned in the past, I'm all for this move. Due to giant new stadiums - and along with those stadiums the increased sale of luxury boxes - the NFL's larger-market teams are increasingly playing with more revenue than the Bills. With salary caps rising dramatically in today's NFL economy, exporting a few games to Toronto may just keep the Bills viable and competitive in said NFL market. Said team owner Ralph Wilson:

"When I was making the presentation to the owners, I said, `I'm tired of standing on a street corner with a tin cup asking you guys to support us.'"

According to the News article, the Bills estimate that they average about 10,000 Canadian fans at home games at Ralph Wilson Stadium. This move is a way to give back to those die-hard fans, while at the same time tapping into the business potential of a Toronto market that is aching to spend some money on football. This is, by and large, a great move for the organization. I have just one teensy, tiny problem...

December Games to be Exported?

It's expected that the game that will shift to Toronto will be in December, perhaps the last home game of the year. Games in mid- to late December typically are harder for the Bills to sell out because of weather concerns. Moving a December game would be preferable for Toronto, as well, because it would be after the end of the Canadian Football League season.

That could be a problem. Isn't this the year that the Bills are supposed to finally play meaningful football in December? Dick Jauron thinks so. Many fans think so. Yet the team is willing to export what could be the first playoff-clinching game in a decade, just because December games are difficult to sell out.

Yes, I realize that, for lack of a better term, this team has been crap for a very long time. With eight straight playoff-less seasons, the idea of a meaningful home finale may be laughable to some. Still, isn't it safer to export an early game - whether or not it's easier for the fine folks in Canada? The NFL did that with the Giants/Dolphins tilt in England this past season, and they'll export an early-season game to the same place next season as well. Moving early-season games keeps the franchises involved competitive at the end of the season. Apparently, Buffalo won't get that same luxury - even if this game is different from th England game in that, in all likelihood, the vast majority of the crowd in Toronto will be rooting on the Bills.

According to the article, nothing official has been announced in terms of current season ticket holders, and how they'll get priority for seating at that game. You know... the people who have continued to buy season tickets despite the poor performance of the Bills in the 21st century. Shouldn't those fans get to see meaningful football in December? They're the biggest reason the Bills are still around at all. Yet there's a very real possibility that they'll be watching a potential December game with playoff implications from their couches.

Again, full details of the agreement have yet to be released. We'd love to hear your thoughts on what we know so far of the Toronto deal.

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