The Buffalo Bills have announced that they will not play in Toronto this preseason, claiming that a scheduling conflict has called off the planned August game north of the border. The Bills will still play a game in Toronto in the regular season, as they have for each of the last five years.
The Bills’ claim that there’s a scheduling conflict is surprising considering that the preseason schedule hasn’t been set yet, and considering that a preseason game in 2012 was part of the original deal with the Rogers Centre that the Bills made five years ago. It’s probably safe to say that if the last two Bills preseason games had done big business, the team and the stadium would have figured out a way around the scheduling conflict.
But preseason games in Toronto have not done well: The Bills drew just 39,583 fans for their preseason game against the Colts in 2010. That was down from an announced crowd of 48,433 for their preseason game against the Steelers in 2008.
So the Bills will have both of their preseason games at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York, and seven of their eight regular-season games there. The one regular-season game at the Rogers Centre will be the last game under the current five-year, $78 million deal between the Bills and Rogers Communications. Both sides have expressed interest in a new deal that will see the Bills continue to play regularly in Toronto. But probably only for the regular season.