Barstool Prophet: Embrace Buf-ronto

According to the latest Buffalo football scheduling news, the Bills are signing on with Toronto for five more years of Canadian visits–and the hometown faithful are not exactly giddy with the arrangement.
For the next five seasons, stubborn western New Yorkers will sit on their couches, shout expletives over beers and wonder why they have to sacrifice a game per season to thousands of drunken Maple Leaf fans. Confused locals can look forward to seeing the Bills play in front of Southern Ontarians (?) wearing a odd smattering of Peyton Manning, Michael Vick and Doug Flutie jerseys inside the Rogers Center as they care less about who’s actually playing on the field in front of them. We’ll see televised Fred Jackson touchdowns inside Canada’s answer to Minnesota’s Metrodome, and we’ll all yearn for those freewheeling days of the nineties when Orchard Park was enough. When it was a sprawling weekly Woodstock, full of wild, committed, ticket-gobbling fans waiting for another impending AFC championship.
Only two problems with this: 1. the NFL economy has changed drastically since my January 12th, 1992 AFC Championship ticket cost $32 (including tax and county charge); and 2. this Toronto arrangement is extremely smart–and not without precedent.
Is it wrong to wonder whether the extension of this agreement is further proof that the Bills might move to Toronto? I guess not. Since many fatalistic Bills fans already fear the team is California-bound, I guess you’re free to pick your pessimism. But, why would the NFL move the Bills up the QEW when a regionalized, lucrative partnership between an international metropolis and an established, passionate, historical football locale makes far more sense? The Bills extending their reach into Southern Ontario doesn’t hurt Buffalo‘s viability for any future ownership group; it helps it. 
About 15% of Bills season ticket holders are from Canada, so why not play one annual game there in December? Sure, prideful Bills fans are reluctant to admit it, but Buffalo (by itself) lacks the economic and/or corporate swingers to both regularly compete and keep the Bills here long-term. Regionalization of the franchise isn’t a choice; it’s a necessity. Fans bitch about giving Canada a regular season game, but would those same fans be willing to pay double to see that Canadian-located game? Nope. You can’t have it both ways. If  Rogers wants to fork over another $78 million to rent the Bills for five more Sundays (and a meaningless preseason game every now and then), no problem; a small price to pay for solidifying the franchise’s place in the region. In order for the Bills to remain in Buffalo–and, in a much larger sense, for this region’s business sector to advance and thrive forward–a partnership with Southern Ontario and Toronto makes a tremendous amount of sense. (It’s amazing that this cross-border relationship is considered such a controversial idea. And, maybe that border’s the problem. Would there be such a stink about playing games in Syracuse? It’s just an underwhelming bridge between collaborative countries, so why the hostility? Who are we, the Fenians?)  
Embrace it or endure through it, but know that this kind of travel arrangement has happened before–and for a much more prestigious organization.
There is a precedent set by another small market franchise who enhanced their viability by playing games in a regional location where a larger fan base existed. The team? The Green Bay Packers. From 1933 to 1994, the Packers played two to three games per year in Milwaukee due to the regional lure of the team. The Packers are 13-time NFL champions and arguably the league’s most historic franchise, steeped in narrative lore and profanity-laden Lombardi speeches. They are the small market model and, yes, even they had to travel out of their hamlet to enhance their reach. Also, the distance between Green Bay and Milwaukee? 118.96 miles.

The distance between Buffalo and  Toronto? 98.61. 

Not a bad drive. And, it’s a lot closer than Los Angeles.

(Author’s note: This entry was completed while listening to Donovan’s “Sunshine Superman.”)


Mike Farrell recently started The Farrell Street Blog - an educated ramble on topics such as sports, music and his return to the mean streets of western New York. He may also mention things about his novels “Running with Buffalo”, or the yet-to-be released “When the Lights Go Out.”

*Mike’s original BRO post titled The Idea of Buffalo has reached 829 shares

About the author  ⁄ queenseyes

Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Catalyst behind the Pierce-Arrow Film Arts Center. Throws The Witches Ball at The Hotel @ The Lafayette. Themed New Years mayhem at various locations. Next up: Porchfest... Also offers package tours of the city for groups or individuals. Contact Newell Nussbaumer | Newell@BuffaloRising.com

11 comments
Khmylevs_Heroes
Khmylevs_Heroes

With WNY's love of urban sprawl, I thought people enjoyed driving great distances to a Bills game.

Aren't far flung Toronto games like a wet dream for those folks? The equivalent to an urbanite salivating when something gets built to the curb?

But seriously, I have no problem taking money from Rogers.

Question: Does having the Bills players up in Toronto have any affect on our free agency chances; exposing them to what's available up there? Akin to Ted Black showcasing Elmwood Ave. to potential Sabres?

buffknut
buffknut

No Schlick Sherlock. Gosh, without your knowledge, I would never have known!

Up and coming
Up and coming

This guys been selling us hope like a snake oil salesman for close to a decade now......and we've been soaking it up. This guys a F*in' genius!

jamesonbeckwith
jamesonbeckwith

has anyone consulted with mark miller for his two cents on this issue? dallas is going down gary!

sobuffbillsfan
sobuffbillsfan

You're allowed to say "bitching" in articles on here now? Awesome!

Joking aside you are spot on with the Green Bay comparision. Especially with the fact that the Giants and Jets saw what the Bills were trying to do, become upstates team and put their camps in Albany and Cortland respectively to try to fend this off.

I agree with the other posters though. As a season ticket holder I would like to see them have 1 preseason and 1 regular season game a year. It seems to make it a more "fair" trade off for the fans. The other preseason game is the kids game which often sells out...everyone is happy!

Tom
Tom

I think a lot of people don't realize how great of a job Russ Brandon does. I mean I love the Bills, maybe too much ha, but to have a consistently losing franchise to still be popular, profitable and growing is amazing.

Polockness Monster
Polockness Monster

I'll take it if it means at LEAST five more years in Buffalo, guaranteed.

Up and coming
Up and coming

It really isnt a big deal and this is coming from a die hard Bills fan. The Ontario/Toronto market is huge in keep the Bills viable, Russ Brandon is an absolute genius.

Wolffman
Wolffman

The Toronto game has literally no bearing on if they charge you full price for preseason games.

buffknut
buffknut

As a die-hard season ticket holder, I wouldn't have a problem with playing a game each year in Toronto except that I have to pay full price for 9 games, of which 2 are pre-season. I know it's robbery but I'm a passionate fan too stupid to stop my Bills addiction.

I just want one Super Bowl win before I die!!!!!

mikeraleighphd
mikeraleighphd

If 15 percent of Bills season ticket holders are canadian we dont need to send the team up there to get their money.

The Bills shouldnt play in Toronto because the team isn't really good enough to make the playoffs playing 9 road games and 7 home games. In the four Toronto games to date, we are 1-3 with a blowout victory over the beleaguered Washington Redskins last year.

The players themselves have complained about the poor atmosphere at games played in Toronto. The attendees, I wont call them fans because they are not Bills fans, dont understand the game and dont root for the Bills.

I think a better deal for the Bills would be to play both home preseason games in Toronto every year. If fans want to see the team before the season starts they can go to training camp, which is much more interesting than a preseason game.

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