The Buffalo Bills will travel to Canada to play the Seattle Seahawks on December 16. With that date closing in, there has been more talk about the future of the series - which is seemingly all but sewn up. On Monday, Bills In Toronto series executive director Greg Albrecht spoke with various members of the media as they gear up for the final game in the current agreement.
"We’re still working through the details and, obviously, the dialogue is ongoing," Albrecht told Canada's National Post of a new deal. "We’re hopeful, and we’re pretty bullish about it, but we haven’t signed on the dotted line yet."
WGRZ in Buffalo reported on Monday, citing Albrecht, that the deal is "nearly complete." The Toronto Sun said on Monday that the reason a new deal has not been signed is the lack of a new lease agreement between the Bills and Erie County for Ralph Wilson Stadium. While a new Toronto deal has been approved by the NFL, it will also have to be written into the new lease with New York State and Erie County.
Ticket sales have improved in the latest installment of the series, thanks largely to the lowering of prices. It bodes well for an extension from both sides of the agreement.
"(Sales) are moving along pretty briskly right now," Albrecht told the Sun. "We had a nice ramp-up from August through now. From a percentage standpoint, we're hovering around the 80-90 percent sold mark right now. There are still great seats to be had at the Rogers Centre."
Rogers Media, the Toronto-based company that leased the games from the Bills, slashed ticket prices by 35 percent in July. Some seats were available for as low as $48. Because Rogers leased the game, "selling out" Ralph Wilson Stadium, the game is considered sold out to the league and will be broadcast on local television.
The Bills have been reaping major benefits, as well. Besides the windfall of cash for the game, CEO Russ Brandon told WGR on Wednesday that roughly 20 percent of game day crowds at Ralph Wilson Stadium are from Southern Ontario and Toronto. He claims it was about 10 percent prior to the deal.
It's a deal that benefits both sides, but still raises the ire of the fan base and local politicians. The goals of the series are clearly stated and working, though, and that's what the team cares about.