Yes, an NFL owner trying to emotionally blackmail the local gov't . They will lose the team unless they see things his way.
I think it's the first time in the history of the NFL that has ever happened.
They "the NFL" dont have a need for Canada but them in "Toronto" Think they can handle the NFL!Its only a matter of time before B.C crys foul and wants a NFL team too saying they are bigger then Toronto! Its all very interesting.
Completely agree mb, these guys are heavy hitters, heck, Rogers is the head media king in all of Canada or very close to it, what's he worth, some $5 billion or so not counting MLSE's involvement in this.
I don't care what anyone says about the NFL not wanting Toronto, with this kind of money and a media magnet, wake up.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008 12:16 PM - Nick Mendola - WGR 550
(WGR 550) — Ralph Wilson, Jr. had the opportunity to douse the blaze ignited by the Bills' announcement that they'll play eight home games over five years in Toronto.
He chose to fan the flames instead.
In front of a packed Northern Lights Ballroom at the Renaissance Toronto Hotel that included over 40 television cameras, Toronto officials and a Hall of Fame running back, the Bills owner and others refused to speculate on the long-term prospects of the Bills in Buffalo.
"We're here to create a little excitement, and not the same old thing, every week," Wilson said, seated alongside Rogers Communications officials Ted Rogers and Phil Lind, and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment chairman Larry Tanenbaum.
"To the fans of Buffalo: Hey, I can't speculate. Don't worry," Wilson said.
"Don't worry right now."
While he endlessly praised the partnership the franchise has created with Toronto, that optimism didn't stop Wilson from illuminating the failures and problems plaguing Buffalo.
"The town of Buffalo and it's no secret is diminishing in size. Ted (Rogers), you said you'd like to see more people moving (to Toronto), would you send a few of them to Buffalo?" Wilson asked, "Cause Buffalo is going the other way. It's dwindling in population, in jobs. People move out of Western New York, so I would say to keep the team there, we had to regionalize. The team could not be maintained in Buffalo, and I did not want to have the team leave Buffalo because we still had hundreds of thousands of very passionate fans. I thought it would be a death knell for the city of Buffalo."
Preceding those comments was unabashed positivity toward the project, spearheaded by Lind.
"Like many Canadians, I follow the Buffalo Bills with great, great interest," he said. "We believe this series will be good for the sport of football overall. Everyone will benefit."
While Lind and Rogers declined comment on every question directed toward their desire to have an NFL franchise in Toronto, Lind did address some details of the venture:
Saying this was a dream at least 20 years old, Lind said they would use a random selection process for tickets, similar to how the NFL conducted 2007's regular season game between Miami and the New York Giants in London, England, and directed season ticket holders and general interest to a web site, www.billsintoronto.com. Lind said tickets will be sold as a one-time, eight-game commitment, and that payment in full will not have to be made up front.
Lind also said there would be some tickets available below $100.
Rogers, who runs the corporation bearing his name, said spoke often of the economic impact this venture will bring to Toronto, and with good reason. The Bills will simply be providing the football players, while the Rogers Centre controls all other aspects of the operation, apart from the visiting team, which will be decided by the league.
for complete story:
Bills owner agrees Toronto could support NFL franchise
February 06, 2008, 12:24 PM
by Shane Dingman
From Sean Fitz-Gerald:
It was an off-the-cuff response, but nevertheless it offered hope to the NFL-mad types in the GTA:
This morning at the Rogers Centre Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson, 89, was asked if he felt Toronto could support a franchise (the question was not phrased as to whether we're talking about his franchise, just any team) his answer was succint:
"I would answer that in the affirmative."
The opinion came with the official launch of the five-year plan to "regionalize" the Bills fan base by holding eight games, five regular season and three pre-season contests in Toronto over the next five years.
Organizers have also pledged tickets will be availalbe for under one hundred dollars, though the block of dates is being marketed as a "premium event."
Fans can register now at www.billsintoronto.com to a "no obligation ticket list NOW! Once you're a part of this exclusive group, you'll get full information on game dates and pricing packages – even before tickets become available!"
Bills organizers have said all along the goal of games in Toronto is to strengthen the team in Buffalo, by minting more fans from across the border.
Many now wonder whether the series represents a first step on the team's move to Toronto. "They can think whatever they want," he told The Buffalo News last month. "I can't speculate the future."
Tuesday, February 5, 2008 7:12 PM EST
Is Bills' game in Toronto an audition?
If you're a Bills fan and aren't concerned about the NFL giving the team permission to play five regular season games in Toronto between the coming season and 2012, you should be.
For years it's been speculated that soon after the death of owner Ralph Wilson Jr., the Bills will be gone from Western New York.
And nothing has changed that perception.
Ralph's daughters, who now work in the organization but are both of grandmother age, have no interest in taking over the team ... especially given the punitive nature of the inheritance tax.
Instead, the Bills' 89-year-old owner has indicated the franchise will be sold to the highest bidder upon his death.
But, with a property that Forbes values in the $625 million range, that may be problematic to be pulled off in a region of declining population and troubled economy.
Hall of Famer Jim Kelly's bid to put together a group to buy the team might be well-intentioned, but it's doubtful he can assemble investors with the financial juice to make such a pricey purchase and keep the team here.
Besides, it's already evident the Bills are in financial trouble, despite the fans' best efforts, and Wilson is still around.
Clearly the problem is cash flow.
Buffalo's average ticket price is among the lowest in the NFL and even with a full house - the Bills sold out every game this season - the team is losing financial ground, especially with its luxury box revenue a fraction of the league norm.
That's where Toronto comes in.
Supposedly, the Bills' goal, in bidding for the Toronto games, is to recruit Canadian corporations to help subsidize the franchise.aBut do you really think one annual regular-season game and an exhibition contest will accomplish that?
Think about it.
A game is being taken away from a team that generally sells them all out, despite being one of the NFL's three smallest markets.
And consider this, the Toronto connection handling the Bills' games consists of Blue Jays owner Ted Rogers, the third richest Canadian worth nearly $5 billion and after whom the stadium is named, and Larry Tanenbaum, owner of both the NHL's Maple Leafs and NBA's Raptors.
For the record, nearly five million populate the metro Toronto area, several times more than the region where the Bills currently market outside of Canada. And, oh yeah, the $250 average for Bills' tickets in Toronto is four times more than the Ralph Wilson Stadium average, even after adjusting for the exchange rate.
It's hard not to conclude that Wilson has read Western New York's financial tea leaves and concludes his team can't survive in Western New York after his death.
Thus, he's granting a Canadian audition for potential buyers who can not only afford the Bills, but would also relocate them a mere 90 minutes from Buffalo.
And while it's a discouraging option, it still beats the San Antonio or Los Angeles Bills.