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Falcons-Bills draws smallest Toronto crowd yet

RobFord AP

Two bad football teams and one bad mayor weren’t enough to put butts in the seats in Toronto on Sunday.

According to the Globe & Mail, only 39,869 showed up for Sunday’s annual Ontario NFL fest, the smallest crowd yet for a regular-season game Bills game in Canada.  The number exceeded by only a few hundred the attendance for a Colts-Bills preseason game in 2010.

Mayor Rob Ford, who has lost most of his powers but continues to hold the office, showed up for the game, wearing a very large Fred Jackson jersey.

“I don’t get a chance to watch too much news,” Jackson said after the game.  “But I guess I got to start paying attention to it.”

He’s probably the only one who isn’t.  When it comes to the NFL, however, plenty of people in Toronto aren’t paying attention.

And that’s bad news for the effort to make the regional footprint sufficiently large to prevent the Bills from being moved to a much larger market in a much warmer state.

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46 Responses to “Falcons-Bills draws smallest Toronto crowd yet”
  1. gallopinggilmore says: Dec 2, 2013 10:08 AM

    A crack smoking mayor who doesn’t keep up with current events… and I thought we had incompetent politicians. It was a good game if you just imagine the teams in different uniforms.

  2. joetoronto says: Dec 2, 2013 10:08 AM

    I’m sure fans of any team in the league would pay big bucks to watch 2 crappy teams from other cities.

    Think about that.

  3. captbuff says: Dec 2, 2013 10:13 AM

    This isn’t evidence that regionalization isn’t working – its evidence that playing games in Toronto is just plain dumb. There are plenty of Bills fans in Southern Ontario, but just like people from Buffalo, they’d rather go to Ralph Wilson for a game because its an infinitely better atmosphere.

  4. patriottony says: Dec 2, 2013 10:14 AM

    They can move right here to Columbia SC,,we have plenty of land to build them a new stadium,,and how about calling them the “Rangers” ?? “SHARKS”??? I’m sure the PANTHERS would object,,,but they are in NC….

  5. hjb99992013 says: Dec 2, 2013 10:14 AM

    Real Bills fans from the GTA (Greater Toronto Area, which has a population base of about 6 million) find this game being played in TO an absolute joke.

    I would suggest many true Bills fans from this area, if not all, myself included, refuse to attend as a matter of principle.

    This series from day 1 has been a colossal failure, and it is time to put an end to it.

    If the NFL wants to get in bed with the TO Rogers people, good luck to them.

  6. wwwmattcom says: Dec 2, 2013 10:16 AM

    The game also showed how inept the referreeing is in the NFL and how zebras determine the game.

  7. jjb0811 says: Dec 2, 2013 10:17 AM

    Turned out to be a fun game, but who’d pay to see 2 teams w/ a combine 5 wins play? Wait until you see the crowd on Thursday night football when the Texans come to Jax.

    Its not that complicated, people will pay for quality. 3-9 Falcons vs 4-8 Bills is not enticing.

  8. jaylaw01 says: Dec 2, 2013 10:18 AM

    Gallopinggilmore, re-read the article. Fred Jackson doesn’t read the news, not the crack smoking Chris Farley wanna be mayor of Toronto.

  9. bucrightoff says: Dec 2, 2013 10:18 AM

    Unless you’re the Leafs, Toronto sports fans don’t care. Blue Jays and Raptors have had crap attendance for years.

  10. tommymomoney says: Dec 2, 2013 10:22 AM

    I’m a huge NFL fan in Canada, don’t watch CFL ever. I refuse to pay the ridiculously inflated prices to go to a game in Canada. I can cross the border and go to a game in Buffalo, Cleveland etc. for cheaper.

  11. jason9696 says: Dec 2, 2013 10:24 AM

    I wouldn’t go to a Bills-Falcons game if it was free. I don’t care where the game was being played.

  12. dabceb says: Dec 2, 2013 10:25 AM

    gallopinggilmore says: Dec 2, 2013 10:08 AM

    “A crack smoking mayor who doesn’t keep up with current events… and I thought we had incompetent politicians. It was a good game if you just imagine the teams in different uniforms.”

    What article were you reading or was it the same crack?

  13. ytownjoe says: Dec 2, 2013 10:25 AM

    If this happens in Toronto, imagine what happens if the NFL puts a team in London.

  14. buddysguys says: Dec 2, 2013 10:25 AM

    why would people go when its an automatic sellout and will never be blacked out?

    Also it should never have been extended if TO wants a game they should get one but it should be different teams every year like the awul London games.

  15. fivestarwrestling says: Dec 2, 2013 10:25 AM

    I’m pretty sure Bills season ticket holders don’t get tickets to the Toronto games… I’m sure that doesn’t help the attendance, either.

  16. exboomer says: Dec 2, 2013 10:26 AM

    Pretty much EVERY Bills fan on both sides of the border hate the Toronto games. I know the Bills need the fan base in Canada to make the team viable in WNY but it will never be a successful series IMO.

  17. realnflmaster says: Dec 2, 2013 10:26 AM

    For an inept franchise, the Raptors have consistently been in the top half of the NBA in attendance year after year, even in the top 10 most cases.

    Do your research buc.

    No one in Toronto cares for the Bills. This is Cowboys/Patriots/Eagles country.

  18. The Jets are the most pathetic franchise of all time says: Dec 2, 2013 10:27 AM

    This game itself takes away from the Bills efforts to appeal to their market, not the lack of attendance at the game. Bills fans who are season ticket holders probably dont want to go to this game out of principal, because they know it should be a game in Buffalo. The lack of attendance in Toronto is not a reflection of Bills fan support, nor a reflection of whether or not they should move. Toronto, due to distance and cultural differences, is not a Bills market or even an NFL market, no matter how much the NFL wants it to be.

    I’ve spent a considerable amount of time on business in the Buffalo area, though I’m not from there. I can tell you the passion of the fans. The Bills are not only going to tie an NFL record for playoff drought, they are headed for a 9th straight losing season. The fact they can sell out any games in a small market with that track record is amazing. And trying to pin it on the weather is plain silly. The Bills dont need to get to a warm climate. They need to win games. You really think Los Angeles would suport a team through a long losing stretch? They can hardly support teams they have when they are good, in stadiums half or less the size of an NFL one.

  19. toybkshr says: Dec 2, 2013 10:30 AM

    Why wouldn’t more Canadians want to see the “Battle of the Beatins” ?

  20. zonedogz says: Dec 2, 2013 10:32 AM

    The Bills have always claimed that regionalization of the franchise necessitated the Toronto series when common sense tells you it’s all about money and comes at the expense of losing the advantage of the teams 12th man in Orchard Park. Handicapping any team in the NFL by taking away a home game every year would make it difficult to succeed let alone the bumbling Buffalo franchise
    which hasn’t seen the playoffs since 1999. Real fans from Southern Ontario would rather attend a game at Ralph Wilson Stadium anyway!

  21. bucrightoff says: Dec 2, 2013 10:32 AM

    Wow top half of NBA attendance? Thats incredible, and still means 0 sellouts ever. Speaks more to NBA attendance than anything.

  22. realfootballfan says: Dec 2, 2013 10:35 AM

    I noted this yesterday with the announced attendance of just under 40000, which I’m sure was actually worse if you counted heads. Isn’t the purpose of these kinds of games to get great crowds? Seems like a waste for long-suffering Bill fans who continue to sell out games despite how bad the Bills have been.

  23. noahbird says: Dec 2, 2013 10:44 AM

    Can you format your mobile pages to enlarge photos when tapped?

    Thanks,

    WV citizen

  24. raiderseliminatedfromplayoffsalready says: Dec 2, 2013 10:45 AM

    Well at least JoeToronto has two new teams he can root for.

  25. blackbug99 says: Dec 2, 2013 10:45 AM

    The Toronto experience sucks!! The field sucks, the refs sucked, the fans attending were decent fans, but the attendance sucked!! It’s not a home game in any sense of the word. There wasn’t, and never will be a 12th man, for the Bills in Toronto. Buffalo is a blue collar, in the weather, tailgating team. Toronto is an uppity, 72 degrees in the dome, pass the grey poupon city. It would have been a different result at a real home game.

  26. bobbay007 says: Dec 2, 2013 10:46 AM

    GTA resident here as well. Decided to go to Detroit for the Lions game on Thursday instead. I’m all for Toronto getting a team despite the fact that it will likely kill the CFL in Toronto. However, don’t take the Bills out of Buffalo. Bills games are meant to be outside with tailgating, bbqing etc… The corporate atmospehere at the SkyDome is no fun at all. Even if Toronto gets a team I will still be going to Buffallo for games if they still exist.

  27. billsboy88 says: Dec 2, 2013 10:47 AM

    I hate this Toronto game for so many reasons. It is a total waste of a Bills “home” game.

    The crowd is lukewarm at very best. No one there seems to care at all. As someone else mentioned, the TO game is not part of the season ticket package, so virtually no season ticket holders ever attend.

    Couple that with the difficulty in crossing the boarder these days, the complete lack of a tailgating experience, and how horrible of a facility for NFL football the Rogers center is, and you have a game that no one wants to see.

    These teams are both not good, but the Bills were in a fight for a chance at the playoffs and they did it in front of a crowd that couldn’t care less.

  28. Gdelarocks says: Dec 2, 2013 10:50 AM

    The game in Toronto has 0 reflection on whether of not this team should be moved to a warmer climate.

    The fact is that 2 hours of distance is the only connection Buffalo and Toronto have, and that the NFL does this for money. Toronto never has and never will be part of the Bills market. Toronto is its own place- millions of people- with 3 teams of its own. People in Buffalo feel no connection with the Jays or the Raptors either- youll find way more Knicks, Celtics, Yankee and Red Sox fans in Buffalo. So why should it be any different for Toronto.

    Like the gentlement above put it- Bills need to win games, nothing more. Every market has its share of fairweather fans. If the Bills can still sell out or nearly sell out all of their home games amidst their current drought, which is one of the most pathetic of all time, they will certainly have no problem if this current regime they have can start winning.

  29. eatitfanboy says: Dec 2, 2013 10:52 AM

    I don’t think a crowd with Rob Ford in it can considered “small” no matter how many people are there.

  30. ghostofgilchrist says: Dec 2, 2013 10:52 AM

    Any talk of relocating the Bills makes me want to puke. Jacksonville tarps over seats, and the Chargers are blacked out for a game with real playoff implications, in a market with many times the population.

    The Toronto game fails because of the ticket cost, and no tailgating. Can’t have open alcohol in public in Ontario. Canadian fans would rather go to the Ralph.

  31. joetoronto says: Dec 2, 2013 10:55 AM

    Listen to all these excuses, the Bills did NOT lose the game because it was played in Toronto, they lost because they fumbled the game away.

    Bills and Sabres fans have been making excuses for decades, decades of never, ever, winning a thing.

    And you wonder why people in Toronto aren’t Bills fans, SMH.

  32. gallopinggilmore says: Dec 2, 2013 11:05 AM

    jaylaw01- Thanks for the correction. My attention span was already well past its limit considering this article concerned the Bills and Falcons.

  33. bucrightoff says: Dec 2, 2013 11:08 AM

    Toronto sports fans are just terrible. The Los Angeles/Miami fans of Canada, if they aren’t winning, they aren’t attending. Cities like Buffalo and Cleveland deserve their teams because they’ll come out regardless.

  34. Gdelarocks says: Dec 2, 2013 11:11 AM

    joetoronto says:
    Dec 2, 2013 10:55 AM
    Listen to all these excuses, the Bills did NOT lose the game because it was played in Toronto, they lost because they fumbled the game away.

    Bills and Sabres fans have been making excuses for decades, decades of never, ever, winning a thing.

    And you wonder why people in Toronto aren’t Bills fans, SMH.

    ………………………….
    Please enlighten us all as to where any of the posts make excuses for the Bills losing the game? People are pointing out why the game shouldnt be played there, why the attendance was low, etcera. Not one person has tried to say the game being in Toronto has anything to do with the loss.

    You’re literally making things up. No one is making excuses, the Bills have no one to blame for that loss but themselves. Pretty sure no one is making excuses for why theyve been bad for so long- its because theyve had a lack of talent and poor coaching. No one denies that. So I ask again- please cite examples of this “excuse making”. Or better yet, stop trolling, because its pointless.

  35. drsummeroff says: Dec 2, 2013 11:11 AM

    “No one in Toronto cares for the Bills. This is Cowboys/Patriots/Eagles country.”

    Yep, pretty much what one would expect from a city that gave us Rob Ford. Keep smokin’ it guys. ;)

  36. ryanrockzzz says: Dec 2, 2013 11:14 AM

    The NFL and The Bills should realize two things from this.

    1.) If the Bills are bad every year (which they are), then it does not matter where they play attendance will be poor. Specifically, if you want to generate interest in another area, you would hope the team would at least be a good team.
    2.) All of this Eurpoean /Canadian interest that the NFL has is just based on greed. The game already generates a ton of money each year. Constantly trying to put the round peg in the square hole is just an excemplification of the almighty dollar. Shouldn’t be surprised though, since all Godell cares about is making money and avoiding lawsuits.

  37. Gdelarocks says: Dec 2, 2013 11:32 AM

    ryanrockzzz says:
    Dec 2, 2013 11:14 AM
    The NFL and The Bills should realize two things from this.

    1.) If the Bills are bad every year (which they are), then it does not matter where they play attendance will be poor. Specifically, if you want to generate interest in another area, you would hope the team would at least be a good team.

    …………………………
    Exactly what I’ve been trying to say, thank you. The Bills have been miserable for a decade now. 9 straight losing seasons speaks for itself. If the Bills had an 8-4 record instead of 4-8 and had been as successful the last decade as they were in the 90s, the market size wouldnt be an issue. Fairweather fans are everywhere, whether or not people want to admit it. WINS sells tickets. Handing the game away to inferior opponents via turnovers, year after year, does not.

  38. dcapettini says: Dec 2, 2013 11:49 AM

    Unfortunately for the Bills, they just haven’t sucked bad enough to get a primo QB. They have a pretty good defense, but as the current state of the Packers shows vividly, the absence of a top tier QB dooms a team to irrelevance. When they had a QB, they were a great team. Bad luck and not racing to the bottom (see Indianapolis) have conspired to relegate them to the bottom half of the league.

  39. voltron217 says: Dec 2, 2013 12:33 PM

    Even Canadian fans will tell you they would rather go to buffalo for a game then in Toronto. Its about the all mighty suites money.

  40. channelguy says: Dec 2, 2013 1:11 PM

    There are many reasons why this series hasn’t worked, and won’t likely ever work.

    1) The Toronto stadium’s sight lines were built for baseball. It’s an awful place to watch football from most seats.

    2) Not only is there no place to tailgate outside, even if there were it would be illegal in Ontario unless the beverage of choice was root beer. Tailgating in Orchard Park is one of the best things about the game.

    3) The game is always late in the season to avoid conflict with the CFL. But because the Bills havent been good for many years, that means its always a team eliminated from the playoffs playing. Hard to whip up enthusiasm for that.

    4) Tickets are too expensive. They DID cut the worst seats significantly this year, but they are still more expensive than regular NFL tickets.

    5) There are lots of Ontario fans who go to the regular Bills games but they tend to come from the western side of the peninsula – Burlington/Hamilton to Niagara Falls. Toronto fans tend to support a huge range of teams, with a slight advantage to the ‘public’ ones like Dallas, GB and Pittsburgh. I went to the Washington/Buffalo game a few years ago (the only one the Bills have won in Toronto) and there were a LARGE number of fans with Redskins gear, about as many as Buffalo. Fans from southwest Ontario don’t come to the Toronto game for the same reasons Buffalo fans don’t — the first four reasons above.

  41. jeffreyshulenburg says: Dec 2, 2013 1:14 PM

    As a Bills fan I can tell you the problem here in just a few words…

    Why would I pay twice as much and drive an hour further to see my team when I can wait 2 weeks, pay $70 instead of 150 and I get the great tailgating to boot? By moving the games to Toronto, you are appealing ONLY to the Toronto base. The fans from NY dont want to pay double to sit is a tiny bubble with no atmosphere and have to deal with boarder security while they are at it.

  42. pastabelly says: Dec 2, 2013 1:25 PM

    They were all disappointed because the American version of the game has no possiblity of scoring a rouge. What a letdown!!! Eh? Time for a cold LaBatt’s and preparation for the CFL draft.

  43. mogogo1 says: Dec 2, 2013 1:41 PM

    But, no doubt Goodell dreams of the day there’ll be the Bills plus a new team playing in Toronto. Because if he dreams it, it magically happens.

  44. kamilski23 says: Dec 2, 2013 1:47 PM

    Yes 39,000 fans is very sad. But lets not forget that the Bills are not exactly selling out their games in Buffalo this season either. The owners have been getting regular extensions and eventually buying up all the remaining tickets for something like .35cents on the dollar just to avoid blackouts all season long. Plain and simple this team is bad and has been for a very long time, making it hard to watch whether you live in Buffalo, Toronto or London.

    Add to this fact the ridiculous price increase for the game in Toronto, no tailgating and the awful luck of having a supposed “Super Bowl Contender” (ie Falcons) being one of the worst teams in the league all of a sudden and its no wonder that no one shows up.

  45. seanpbeck says: Dec 2, 2013 3:19 PM

    1. NFL ticket prices are already completely ridiculous. 2. The prices to the Toronto game are literally double the already ridiculous prices. 3. Most people aren’t stupid enough to pay double. 4. The Bills and Roger Goodell apparently think we’re stupid, so it’s insulting. If I lived in Toronto there’s no way in hell I’d pay double for something I can drive 2 hours to for the original price.

  46. seaeagle707 says: Dec 2, 2013 5:05 PM

    We went to Toronto, last year and by half-time most of those there were cheering for the Hawks. It was painfully obvious that the Canadians didn’t see themselves as being the Bills homers. Nor ours I should add. They were willing to see American football and whichever team gave them the best show, was the one they’d yell for. Wilson ran for three TD’s during the first half and clearly established himself (and the Hawks) as the crowd favorite, for that game. I wouldn’t expect it to be any different if two CFL teams came to the States and played a game.

    Better to ascend the CN Tower, nurse a Labatt’s and watch the snow flurries against the downtown skyline.

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