Speculation began to ramp up last week that we could be hearing soon about whether the Buffalo Bills will continue to play an annual home game in Toronto. Those initial posts centered around the team's usual deadline for renewing season tickets, which is occurring later than normal this year.
Mark Gaughan of The Buffalo News posted an excellent look at the situation on Monday, looking at whether or not the series continues to benefit the Bills and Rogers Communications. It's well worth your read, and you're encouraged to take the time to do so. This passage, in particular, caught our attention.
"But the new, five-year deal with Rogers, which began in 2013 and runs through 2017, isn’t nearly as lucrative," Gaughan writes, referring to the first five-year pact that ran from 2008-12. "In fact, we hear the Bills are not making much more per game under the new deal than they’re making in Orchard Park."
We have known since the series was renewed in May of 2012 that the Bills weren't making nearly as much money on the new deal as they did in the first five-year contract. Bills President Russ Brandon cited the team's growing fan base in Canada and their struggles to sell out home games as Ralph Wilson Stadium as positive aspects of the Toronto deal when he told WGR 550 that the series would be reviewed in December; it was telling then that he didn't mention the financial aspect of the accord, and now we have a better idea why.
Ever since Brandon made that declaration following the Bills' loss to the Atlanta Falcons last December, speculation has gradually and quietly intensified that the team was looking to find a way out of the deal. The guesswork about the season ticket renewal deadline seems spot on, so perhaps we'll know sooner rather than later what direction the team is taking with the series. At minimum, we know that it won't have a major financial impact on the club if they do end up negotiating their way out of the series - unless, of course, that negotiation turns into a buyout.