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Buffalo Bills a Bust in Toronto with Record Low Attendance

December 17th, 2012 at 7:50 PM
By Paul Lane Sabres 101

The Buffalo Bills proved to be a big dud Sunday in Toronto – and not just on the scoreboard.

'Rogers Centre' photo (c) 2008, Philip Tellis - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Sunday's announced attendance at the Rogers Center for Buffalo's 50-17 loss to Seattle was 40,770. That is just about 10,000 below the previous low attendance figure in the five-year Bills Toronto Series, 50,746 in 2010.

How bad is that? Consider:

  • The Bills 2008 preseason game in Toronto against Pittsburgh drew 48,434 games
  • The Bills were outdrawn by the CFL. The 2012 Grey Cup, played in November, drew 53,208 people to the Rogers Centre.
  • Every team in the NFL has an average attendance this season at least 14,000 fans higher.
  • Thirteen out of 14 college football teams in the SEC drew more fans per game in 2012 than the Bills did Sunday. The 14th team, Vanderbilt, was close with an average 37,860 fans per game.

In spite of this – and the fact that the Bills' "home game" draws more road team fans and neutral viewers than Bills fans – the series is set to be extended five more seasons. The Bills made $78 million off the last five-year deal and draw upwards of 20 percent of their season ticket base from greater Toronto, so the attraction to the team is obvious.

But Rogers Communications' continued interest in the series is puzzling. Sunday's attendance was pitiful even with tickets discounted by 50 percent compared to the series' start in 2008. Even Canadian viewers don't want the Bills back, including The Province columnist Ed Willes, who said the halftime show Sunday was probably the best part:

"You can only hope Rogers Communications and Larry Tanenbaum now realize these games are just a bad idea and that they discontinue the series. Toronto doesn't want it. Buffalo doesn't want it. The atmosphere inside the dome is cold and lifeless and, as great as that PSY person was (the P is silent isn't it?), there just aren't enough South Korean rappers around to make these contests entertaining. If you live in the (Greater Toronto Area) and want to see the Bills, you can hop on the (Queen Elizabeth Way) and make the 90-minute drive. But, for everyone else, there's no point in continuing this faux-NFL experience."

The Bills are now 1-4 in Toronto. Following is a breakdown of the Bills Toronto Series to date.

YEAROPPONENTATTENDANCE
2008Miami (16-3 loss)52,134
2009New York Jets (19-13 loss)51,567
2010Chicago (22-19 loss)50,746
2011Washington (23-0 win)51,579
2012Seattle (50-17 loss)40,770

 

Tags: Buffalo, Buffalo Bills, Football, NFL

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