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Canadian fans can return to Bills games, but many are declining due to cost of return home

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

For the first time since December of 2019, Canadian Buffalo Bills fans will be welcomed to a home game in Orchard Park. Back then, it was known as New Era Field and now it’s Highmark Stadium. You would think they would be pumped to be back, but that’s not the case.

Even though travel restrictions between the United States and Canada were eased earlier this month following Buffalo’s last home game on Halloween, allowing vaccinated individuals to cross the border for non-essential activities like football games, they didn’t disappear. Canadian regulations state that people need a negative COVID-19 PCR test to return to the country. Because they are non-symptomatic, the tests run from $150 to $200 according to multiple Canadian fans we interviewed.

“[I’m] not opposed to a swab myself, and I want to be as safe and considerate as possible, but the financial impact of that for myself and everyone I travel with is a big deal,” Lestyn Harris told us. “Not all of us can afford Bills games often, and the added cost is hard to deal with.”

Harris is holding onto his tickets for the December game against the Carolina Panthers, for now, and crossing his fingers.

Likewise, Jozef Neu is a season-ticket holder but is choosing to only come to one game this year because of the extra cost of returning.

“We can’t to pay $180 a PCR test to get back into Canada.”

A fan named Steve offered a different option that has its own drawbacks, both financial and with time.

“Best option is come a day early and get an accepted test done in the States at no charge for the re-entry. Cheaper to get a hotel room than pay for multiple tests on the Canadian side,” said Steve, who goes by “PardonMyRatio” on Twitter.

The lack of Canadian fans at games has added tickets to the secondary market all year. Roughly 20 percent of the season-ticket holders are from the Great White North. While some folks have focused on mask mandates and vaccination mandates and their impact on the secondary market, this is the one that matter the most.