The Buffalo Bills and Rogers Media have renewed an agreement that will see the NFL team play five regular-season games in Toronto over the next five years.
There will also be one pre-season game in 2015, Rogers Media president Keith Pelley said at a news conference on Tuesday.
“We are absolutely thrilled…it brings world-class content every year to our stadium,” Pelley said.
The existing five-year deal expired with the Seattle Seahawks’ lopsided 50-17 win over the Bills in December, but an extension had long been expected.
Only 40,770 fans attended this season’s game, far short of a sellout of over 53,000 that had been expected for the final game of the expiring deal.
Under the new deal, ticket prices will be consistent with 2012 pricing, with more than 60 per cent of tickets going for less than $100. It’s cheaper than when the Bills in Toronto series first launched in 2008.
But Pelley said, “I don’t think we need to go significantly lower than that,”
Bills president Russ Brandon said that one of the goals of the long-term partnership was to bring more southern Ontario fans to Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson Stadium.
“In five years, we have seen our GTA fan base grow from 11 per cent [of ticket sales] to over 20 per cent,” he said.
“Our commitment is to bring a winning product to the field. That’s where we have fallen down. We didn’t play good football,” he said.
Buffalo has won just one of its regular-season games in Toronto.
Rogers reportedly paid the Bills $78 million US for the eight-game series in 2008, but that fee is expected to drop under a new agreement. The cost of Tuesday’s deal wasn’t disclosed.
The Bills’ decision to play in Toronto was a bid to expand their market into southern Ontario and gain a firm foothold in Canada’s financial capital to help generate additional revenue to help ensure the small-market’s long-term viability in Buffalo.
With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press