Once again, there were lots of empty seats at Rogers Centre Thursday night.

TORONTO — The Bills played the Colts Thursday night in the fourth instalment of the Bills Toronto Series. The crowd was once again relatively quiet and relatively neutral, and for the fourth consecutive time, not every seat at Rogers Centre was filled.

And so we’re all ready to get our panties in a knot once again, or strengthen a knot that has only been twisted deeper since Ralph Wilson and the late Ted Rogers originally tied it when they announced this series on Jan. 30, 2008.

That was 933 days ago, and the series has yet to receive a truly positive review by a single correspondent not employed by Rogers Communications, which infamously paid $78 million dollars — nearly 10 percent of the team’s overall worth, according to Forbes — for this eight-game array of mediocrity.

We can all agree that the series has been a failure. The crowds continue to be stale, the tailgating parties continue to be non-existent and the ticket prices continue to be too high, despite Rogers’ attempts to soften the blow by lowering them in consecutive years.

What I don’t understand is why this botched series is being connected to the NFL’s potential future in the city of Toronto. The two things do not go hand-in-hand.

I should apologize now to both of my regular readers, because I’ve said this time and again, but the people of Toronto aren’t interested in a bad foreign team playing overpriced exhibition games in their city. Football in Toronto isn’t a novelty — the CFL’s Argonauts play 10 or more home games per year here and the Bills are a 90-minute drive away.

There is very little appeal to these games to Torontonians, but that doesn’t mean Toronto isn’t a city that is well-suited to one day have its own team. The fifth largest market in North America would embrace a team with “Toronto” on its jersey.

Anything short of that, and this is the best you’ll get. Stop being surprised by the reception.

Barring a work stoppage, this series expires after the 2012 season, which is a bad thing for the Bills and a good thing for football fans north of the 49th parallel. That’s because it’s highly unlikely the marriage between Rogers and the Bills continues beyond that. The two sides have not been negotiating an extension and — this is just speculation — Rogers can’t be thrilled with the way things have turned out.

It would make very little financial sense for Rogers to continue the series, unless it gets a large discount the second time around.

That will once again make Toronto a free agent. It’ll also cost the Bills money — they’re making significantly more money off Toronto games than games at Orchard Park. Eventually, Ralph Wilson will die and the Bills will essentially become a free agent themselves.

When that happens, the wheels will undoubtedly be in motion for a move to Toronto or Los Angeles.

It’s sad, but from a financial standpoint, the Bills — as well as the Jacksonville Jaguars for that matter — aren’t carrying their weight in North America’s most powerful professional sports league.

Toronto has the corporate presence to support its own team, so does Los Angeles. Right now, we’re delaying inevitability.

There’s no room for Ma and Pa operations in the NFL.

Unless they’re based in Green Bay.

Comments (13)

  1. I have a rew problems with your article.
    1 – You say the Argos play 10 games here, but don’t mention thier attendance woes… The game pretty much doubled any Argos game this year.
    2 – How do you know that this isn’t a profitable venture for Rogers? I would LOVE to see some proof before you just assume things.
    3 – How does the “series” continue to suck when the game last night was really entertaining?
    4 – It is illegal in Ontario to consume alcohol on the streets. So rather than blame rogers or the bills series, blame your gov’t.

    Clearly you are just someone that doesn’t have much information, which is why I hate bloggers. Get a life kid.

    • “1 – You say the Argos play 10 games here, but don’t mention thier attendance woes… The game pretty much doubled any Argos game this year.”

      The point is simply that the people of Toronto are used to football. It’s not a novelty. The Argos’ attendance figures are irrelevant.

      “2 – How do you know that this isn’t a profitable venture for Rogers? I would LOVE to see some proof before you just assume things.”

      It was widely reported that Rogers lost “millions” on the first game, and I can’t imagine things have improved.

      “3 – How does the “series” continue to suck when the game last night was really entertaining?”

      The first quarter was mildly entertaining (especially to weak football fans who consider anything with lots of points entertaining), but no preseason game is overly compelling. Regardless, we’re talking about the series from a business/marketing/fan interest standpoint.

      “4 – It is illegal in Ontario to consume alcohol on the streets. So rather than blame rogers or the bills series, blame your gov’t.”

      Regardless of who’s at fault, the fact that fans can’t tailgate helps make the series a failure.

  2. Clearly you have formed misinformed opinions, and are sticking with them. Best of luck with that.

  3. Yeah, that must be what’s happening here…. LOL

  4. Yes it is. First off, if you think Toronto us use to Footbal becasuse of the Argos, you clearly have no idea what you’re talking about and the Score should be embarassed they have you on here. Toronto hates the CFL, it’s a horrible product.

    Once again, I ask you to prove they lost millions. Reported or what you hear ain’t shit.

    I think you are looking at it and just taking the simple way out and agreeing with everyone that it is horrible, when a more compelling piece to write would be how to fix it. There you go, see if you can do that….

    From what I have seen from you though, that would be too tough to do without reading or hearing from someone else.

    • Regardless of how much support they receive, the Argos have always been a football option in the city of Toronto. It’s hard to even discuss this with you, Mike, because you don’t seem to be understanding the very basic point: the city of Toronto has ALWAYS had the option to watch football, whether it be at Skydome/Rogers Centre (Argos) or 90 minutes away at Ralph Wilson Stadium (Bills). Thus football is not a novelty in Toronto and doesn’t attract 50,000 fans for a meaningless game.

      In London, England or Mexico City, it would. And that’s because American football is still a novelty in those cities.

      Attendance figures/support is completely irrelevant.

      No one has been able to definitively say whether Rogers has made/lost money, but most of us use our common sense. They paid $78 million dollars for these games and haven’t come close to selling out the stadium. Merchandise promoting the Steelers-Bills game from Aug. 2008 is still rotting away in the gift shop. This isn’t a big mystery.

      Not everything is written in cement. This is a blog and we speculate and put two and two together. If you can’t handle that, I’d suggest you stay away from the internet as a whole.

      I have in the past been fairly supportive of this series. And believe me, I’ve rarely been told I take the “popular opinion” route. In fact, I’m often criticized for going the opposite way.

      For example: http://blogs.thescore.com/nfl/2010/08/11/gls-preview-new-york-jets/

  5. I will not stay away from the internet, but The Score has lost a visitor in me by having you write and defend all of this nonsense.

  6. You stay classy, Brad Gagnon

  7. The tailgate thing is actually a twofold problem…

    1) Is the fact the AGCO are a bunch of fun-hating jackwads
    HOWEVER, that could be fixed with selective enforcement.
    Every year, Toronto Cops look the other way as thousands of people get baked IN FRONT OF THE PROVINCIAL PARLIAMENT BUILDING for the Global Marijuana March. They ignore public drinking during gay pride (more or less, unless you’re a flagrant dickhead about it.
    There’s no reason police couldn’t look the other way for eight Sundays a year. Also, there’s no reason everyone couldn’t put their booze in a Subway cup. (Not McDonalds, booze eats away at McDs cups.)

    2) The REAL problem is that there’s nowhere to tailgate. All these American stadiums have acres of parking immediately next to the stadium. Toronto? Not so much. And you can’t fire up the hibachi on Front St.

  8. Wow mike! it’s okay the rest of Canada hates Toronto- so you can move to the states and become American-its fine by us.

    the NFL will never come to Canada, because , We the People , will prevent the destruction of our league.

    Good day!

  9. yes hi iam a huge cfl fan, and that idiot mike should maybe go watch a cfl game!!!! since he obviously knows nothing about football!!!!!! the cfl is a great game, the greatest football in the world, fast , high energy,and the best fans in the world!!!!!!!!!!!! keep on watching those over payed!!!!!!! athletes,where some of them couldnt even crack a cfl team!!!!!!!!!!!!hey just ask jesse palmer who couldnt even make 3rd string!!!!!!lol with montreal, or ricky williams, who had one of the worst rushing averages in the league!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So to that i say ARGOSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

  10. Well, two years late I may be, but I believe that my opinion is still relevant: Mike……you are an idiot.

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