Bills tickets in Toronto now more affordable
With an agreement nearly in place to have the Buffalo Bills
continue playing an annual home game in Toronto beyond this season,
Rogers Communications executives are confident this
north-of-the-border experiment can succeed.
Just not at any ticket price.
After having difficulty selling out the first six games –
including two during the preseason – organizers have drastically
reduced ticket prices.
The average price for a ticket for Buffalo’s ”home” game
against the Seattle Seahawks on Dec. 16 in Toronto will be $99.
That’s down from about $160 in 2008, when the series began.
”I really think the thing that impacted this thing negatively
in the past is price-point on tickets,” Greg Albrecht, the series’
newly appointed executive director, said Monday. ”In all of our
marketing, that’s what we hammered home was ticket-pricing has been
reduced, not because the product on the field is any worse or
better, it’s because we were not aligned with the rest of the NFL
Albrecht said the Toronto series average ticket is still about
$17 above the NFL average, which he believes is acceptable because
the game is a once-a-year event. It’s still a marked drop from the
first year, when prices ranged from $99-$275. This year, they range
The reduction comes at a time when the series is set to expire.
The game against the Seahawks is the finale of the five-year deal
reached between the Bills and Rogers, the Toronto-based
communications company giant.
Albrecht said negotiations to renew the series are nearly
”I think we still have to dot a few I’s and cross a few T’s. I
think it’s more administrative at this point,” he said. ”But
we’re obviously confident that we’d like to move this thing
The Bills are in favor of extending the series, because it
provides them a foothold in Canada’s largest city and financial
capital. With Toronto only about a two-hour drive from Buffalo, the
Bills have also been able to lure Toronto-area fans to attend games
at Orchard Park.
The team estimates that 15 percent of its season-ticket base is
from southern Ontario.
The formal announcement of a series extension is not expected
until early next year. One holdup is the Bills are in negotiations
with state and county officials to renew their lease at Ralph
Wilson Stadium, which expires in July.
Progress has been made in lease negotiations since stalling in
late summer. But talks are temporarily on hold because New York
officials have spent the past month directing much of their
attention on the lasting effects of Superstorm Sandy.
Rogers agreed to pay the Bills $78 million to play eight games
(including three preseason) at the downtown domed 54,000-seat
Rogers Centre. It’s unknown whether the entire amount was paid
after a scheduling conflict in August led to Rogers having the
Bills take back a preseason game that was set to be played in
An extension of the series is expected to be similar to the
previous deal, with Buffalo playing one annual regular-season game
in Toronto, though it’s unclear how many – if any preseason games –
will be included this time.
Despite enduring numerous growing pains, Rogers remains
committed to making the series work.
”I think it would be silly for us to say, `We’re not going to
entertain moving this thing forward,’ after quite honestly some of
the pain that we’ve faced in the past years of learning,” Albrecht
said. ”We have our learning now, and I think this game will prove
we’re on the right path.”
Albrecht, who took over the series in August, has stopped the
previous practice of giving away tickets in order to draw larger
crowds. He’s also worked on turning the game into more of an
He’s already scored a coup by signing South Korean rap sensation
PSY to perform during half time. PSY’s ”Gangnam Style” has become
YouTube’s most-viewed video, generating more than 840 million
”I think just being topical and being fun: That’s what this
whole thing is all about,” Albrecht said. ”We’re opening it to
not just die-hard football fans, but opening it up to people who
might be on the fence right now, or folks who want to spend an
afternoon wanting to have a good time.”
Albrecht has a broad background in overseeing sports and
entertainment projects, including the 2010 Vancouver Games and two
Canadian Football League Grey Cup championships.
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