Share this article

print logo

Clearing the air on Toronto

Credit the Buffalo Bills for not going the extra mile – or the extra 90 miles in this case – to increase their revenue from their partnership with Rogers Communications, the Canadian media giant.

The Buffalo Bills this week declared they will not be playing more than one regular-season game per season in Toronto when they extend their contract to play games in Canada.

"We're continuing those negotiations and we're close to an agreement," said Russ Brandon, Bills chief executive officer, on his WGR radio show. "The one thing I want to make clear is we will not be playing multiple regular season games in Toronto."

I was wrong in last week's Inside the NFL column, which detailed the expectation that the Bills would play more regular-season games in Toronto's Rogers Centre. Eight games over five years was the forecasted total.

The column was giving an opinion on my view of the negotiations between the Bills and Rogers Communications executives. It was a prediction. But it was overzealous in characterizing the likelihood of the final outcome of those negotiations. It should have been presented in a far more speculative tone. I'm surprised.

Good for the Bills. The team's last deal was signed for $78 million over five years. The easiest way for the club to get another deal that's close to being as lucrative as their last one would be to increase regular-season games.

There's no doubt Rogers would be open to expanding the arrangement. The more games the company could host, the more opportunities it would have to market the deal across all its media platforms, increase its exposure, and maximize its chance to make money above the cost of the rights fee it will pay.

The fact the Bills will not reach for that potential extra Canadian revenue shows they're sensitive to the wishes of their season-ticket base, which for the most part has been understanding of the Toronto regionalization campaign but which also doesn't like the idea of giving up more than one regular-season game.

— Mark Gaughan