Over the last few years, the Buffalo Bills have made a habit of playing at least one regular season game in Toronto’s Rogers Centre. To say that it’s gone less than stellar would be an understatement.
Following their crippling overtime loss two weeks ago, the Bills are now just 1-5 when playing across the border. On Wednesday, team president and CEO Russ Brandon appeared on WGR 550’s The Howard Simon Show and indicated that he’d be reviewing the Toronto series going forward.
“There’s a full evaluation that will take place on all of our business relative to what this series means, and I’m going to look at it very closely,” Brandon said Wednesday in response to Simon’s question involving being competitive in Toronto. “We’ve had great growth in the Southern Ontario marketplace over the last five years back here at Ralph Wilson Stadium. That has been a big positive. It has been a challenged market there, and certainly has not translated into enough wins for us there. As I mentioned, like I said almost a year ago, we’re going to look at everything, and this will be within something I look at.”
Obviously, the game benefits the team financially. There would be no reason to do it otherwise. Brandon touched on those benefits, but discussed that the review could be more about the competitive nature of the games and how that affects the Bills.
“Look at it from the standpoint of where we’ve been this year on the ticket side. We’ve taken a game out of the market, which essentially is taking 70,000 seats out of the market, and have truly only sold out two of our home games,” Brandon explained. “We’ve manufactured sellouts in the other four. We’re trying to find ways to obviously keep this team viable, which we’ve done a very good job at, and this series has obviously contributed to that. With that being said, nothing comes above winning, to your point. When I took over the reins on January 1, I said that is the number one focus, and that will be the number one focus. And that’s one of the reasons that this will be reviewed in a grand manner.”
When pressed about the fact that the series is in the middle of a five-year extension signed last season, Brandon avoided the question and maintained his commitment to review the series.
Either way, while this certainly has monetary value to the Bills, if they want to become serious contenders in the near future, playing novelty games in Canada probably isn’t the best way to help accomplish that. If the team can get out of this and instead get a regular home game in the confines of Ralph Wilson Stadium, they should certainly explore that option.