Report: Only 20,000 at Colts-Bills game in Toronto

The effort to regionalize the Buffalo Bills, and thus to keep them in Western New York, possibly isn’t working as well as the team had planned.

Thursday night’s game between the Colts and the Bills reportedly was played before roughly 20,000 fans, according to Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star.

Even the announced attendance of 39,583 wasn’t all that impressive.

Thursday’s game, the fourth of an eight-game Toronto series, represented the first time fewer than 40,000 showed up for the game, based on official numbers.  The 2008 debut, a preseason contest between the Bills and the Steelers, produced an official attendance of 48,434.  A regular-season game that year against the Dolphins churned out an official attendance figure of 52,134.  Last year’s Thursday night game against the Jets on NFL Network produced an official number of 51,567.

This year, the Bills host the Bears in Toronto on November 7.  It remains to be seen whether and to what extent any of the 53,000 seats will be filled with something other than air.

Making Thursday’s attendance figures more troubling is the fact that the game featured a chance for a Canadian audience to see Peyton Manning and the Colts.  If the trend isn’t reversed, the apparent plan to keep the Bills viable in Buffalo by playing some of the games before a packed house in Toronto could have to be scuttled — which would put the Bills right back in the mix of teams that may move to Los Angeles.

71 responses to “Report: Only 20,000 at Colts-Bills game in Toronto

  1. Toronto is too caught up in their baseball and basketball teams..
    I suggest they have a game in Montreal. I think they would get a better turn out

  2. “Making Thursday’s attendance figures more troubling is the fact that the game featured a chance for Canadian audience to see Peyton Manning and the Colts.”
    Yes, that inspiring vanilla offense for a quarter-and-a-half is enough to shell out regular season ticket money…oh, wait, no it isn’t.
    If teams want to sell out preseason games, drop the prices. Teams pay players far less in training camp/preseason than they do in the season; fans should pay less too.

  3. Hahah…sort of troubling. I guess. Or maybe Canadians are just smarter than us Americans and don’t want to spend a boatload of cash to watch a quarter of almost real football.
    I’ll wait for the regular season before getting too worked up…

  4. It’s an exhibition game and no matter how the NFL tries to package that, fans realize they are being asked to pay full price for a glorified practice.

  5. ITS PRE SEASON FOOTBALL!!!! WHY shell out hundreds of dollars for half ass football???????

  6. I agree with everything above. This is a preseason game. Come back to us when the figures are around 20,000 for a regular season game.

  7. It’s a pre-season game in a city from which neither team is from. How could a poor showing be a surprise?

  8. why lump the bills into the list to go to LA, based on that crappy toronto deal! THE FIGURES THAT THE FRANCHISE IN LA WILL BE ABOUT WHAT WAS THE GAME LAST NIGHT. the bills can survive in WNY just fine without that friggin one game in toronto.

  9. Bills aren’t going anywhere. Two years from now Jim Kelly will be part owner and they are moving the stadium downtown. F the jets and rex ryan

  10. the funniest thing….. Bills vs Fins…attendance 52’134 and it felt like a Dolphins home game…
    not so sure if this is really a good thing for Buffalo – as specially home games in cold/snow conditions are to the Bills advantage…

  11. Making Thursday’s attendance figures more troubling is the fact that the game featured a chance for a Canadian audience to see Peyton Manning and the Colts.
    Maybe they should try displaying episodes of “The Kids in the Hall” on Manning’s giant forehead. Canadians love that stuff.

  12. Why would anyone in their right mind want to pay full ticket price for maybe a quarter of professional football? I’m not an economist from Hah-vaaad but something tells me that if you reduce the price and put more butts in seats you will more than make up for it with concession sales if you are only currently filling half the house.

  13. I was there. There were more than 20,000 people there. The attendance was low because it’s the Bills – they suck, combined with tickets that were way too expensive. And it’s no big deal if only 20,000 showed up when 40,000 tickets were sold.

  14. Living in Toronto now for work and being from the States. Here are the reason no one goes.
    Over priced tickets
    Bad Product
    Roger’s Center is horrible to see a game, no tailgating or vibe
    All the NFL fans up here are a mixed bag. You got Cowboys, Steelers, 49ers, Packers, Dolphins or what ever team is big at the time.
    I’m not paying $75 – $275 for a team I don’t give a shit about

  15. Reasons why atttendence so low…..
    a) let’s be honest…it’s the frickin’ Bills
    b) it’s only preseason, not many fans willing to fork out $85-$250 per ticket to see 1st string players for a handful of plays.
    c) Rogers Communicatons (for all non-Canadians, is the TV company that brokered the deal with good ol’ Ralphie), has done a horrible job with sales promos and had thought that Torontonians would want to watch poo (aka the Bills)
    The NFL would work in Toronto…..just needs to be done right…like hiring some exec’s from current NFL teams or ask for assistance.
    Spiller looked good by the way!

  16. “And it’s no big deal if only 20,000 showed up when 40,000 tickets were sold.”
    If you and the league think that people are really going to believe that 20,000 people paid for tix and just threw them away you’re as dumb as the league seems to think everyone is.

  17. I’m surprised that 20,000 people flew in from Indianapolis.
    Get it? Because no one likes the bills.

  18. We already have a city filled with terrible teams that lose in every possible sport…why are we importing terrible teams to play here? Don’t we suffer enough without having to be lumped in with the worst franchise in the NFL? I went to both regular season games and the second one was way better in terms of atmosphere, but my god the Bills are terrible. Honestly, if you have have not seen them live, you don’t realize how painful it is watching them trying to get a first down…it is a 3 hour trainwreck.

  19. Like others have mentioned. It’s a preseason game. Add that to the fact that the ticket prices are absurd, and one should be happy anyone showed up at all.
    Regular season games cost more than they’re worth, so it blows my mind that preseason games cost anything more than $20.

  20. It is a preseason game, the tickets are substantially higher priced than they are in Buffalo (cheapest ticket is $99 for the upper deck) and they don’t have the benefit of season ticket holders being forced to buy preason tickets as part of the package to boost attendance figures. Really the fact that almost 40 000 people paid for tickets to a preseason game is actually quite amazing. How many other stadiums sell that many tickets without including season ticket holders?

  21. Giants fan here that hopes the Bills always stay in Buffalo. I dont have any legitimate reasons other than I like the cold weatehr elements and blue collar feel the city brings late in the season.
    From a business point of view I can see why they might pack up shop.

  22. You want to start talking about LA based on the attendence of a preseason game? WTH is wrong with you. You stated the attendece for a regular season game last year (over 50,000). I expect the same this year.
    The bills arnt going anywhere. And even if they were, it wouldnt be to LA.
    BTW, the Chargers still have the best chance to move to LA., followed closely by the Jags.

  23. Can you imagine if the Jags and Bills played in London?
    Eight drunken soccer fans would show up.
    The only suspense left is whether the Jags or Bills will be the next team in LA?

  24. Everyone is looking too far into this Toronto adventure. The Bills fleeced a ton of money from Toronto because Toronto thought they could get big money for the tickets. The bills already got their money from toronto. The bills sell out every game in orchard park and have 50k season ticket holders. Dont talk about the Bills moving because of ticket sales. Toronto ticket sales have no reflection of fan support in buffalo. It was a failed business move for Toronto but an excellent one for the bills.

  25. Preseason sucks
    Having said that, any regular season game will sell out in England no problem. Even the Bills

  26. …the Bills aren’t going anywhere !
    Everyone in the league knows that the fanbase is the best in the NFL; especially over the past 10 yrs. Not one playoff appearance yet the team still sells out its 75K stadium. Besides, Goodell is from WNY and knows this area. Los Angeles, inspite of it’s potential, can’t compare.
    Now, Jacksonville. . .
    Amir FaSaad

  27. #1. It’s ‘Preseason’.
    Even Goodell admits that fans don’t want to watch preseason games.
    #2. It’s still the Bills.

  28. And where would they play? There is no NFL quality stadium in LA right now. They have been talking a good game about getting one built for over 20 years.
    The Raiders moved back to Oakland because they couldn’t get a stadium built.
    The NFL awarded an expansion team to Houston instead of LA because they couldn’t get a stadium built.
    The NFL is not going to allow a third AFC in California anyway. They already have two AFC teams in California. Both of them play in crappy stadiums and both of them have issues with blackouts this upcoming season. If a stadium ever gets built in LA, it will be for the Raiders or Chargers.

  29. No team is moving to LA. They already had and lost TWO NFL teams. Who cares how populated a city is when the population won’t even buy enough tickets to sellout a stadium that they don’t even have.

  30. I was at the bills vs steelers game in 2008 and it seemed more like a steelers home game than a bills one. Nobody cares about the bills in Toronto. Can we officially say this experiment was a failure now?

  31. It’s troubling because the Bills are supposed to have fans in Toronto. Preseason or not, if I was normally 2 hours from my favorite team’s stadium and they played a preseason game right down the street, you’d better believe I’d be there.
    Then again I have a perfect Redsakins preseason attendance record in the past 4 years…

  32. I like the idea of Canadians being smarter : ) I was at the game and it was a great 1st quarter indeed. Fans were split 50/50, a lot more Colts jerseys than Bills.
    You’re forgetting one important factor Florio… ticket prices, Bills and Rogers Comm. have been way to greedy for this to work. 50yrd line tickets $500, end zone between $275-$155, upper deck between $125-70. Does the NFL really expect people to pay that for a game, nevermind a preseason game. Toronto loves the NFL, but adopting the Bills is a tough team to inherit and root for and the cost of games is insane. $10.50 for a beer! Bring us a team to call our own and have reasonable prices and Canadians will be there!
    One great thing about a preseason game with no people, and one tunnel… 160+ players are throwing all their gear to everyone!!! That was the best part!
    (ps. I bought my tickets on eBay, so, a lot cheaper)

  33. Seriously?
    Here is a list of things that we arent stuipid enough to do:
    1) allow a British company to drill for oil off our coast
    2) distribute billions to the rich by way of wall street bailouts
    3) pay ANYTHING to see a preseason game
    Ive paid thousands to see games in SD and Dallas and I wouldnt have driven across town for free club seats to last nights game (unless the beer was included).
    Preseason football?? Seriously?? I dont even turn on the tv. This is a story?

  34. I live in Toronto. Torontonians aren’t stupid. They won’t pay money (a LOT of money considering how expensive the tickets are) to watch a crappy team from another city (Toronto doesn’t think of the Bills as its own team) play a meaningless preseason game.

  35. I was at the game last night, 12th row behind the colts bench. Face value of my ticket? $495! Obviously I got the tickets for free through a friends company,but how the hell could they seriously expect anyone to pay that for a pre-season game. Its a miracle 20 000 people showed up with those prices, they were absurd.

  36. Ralph Wilson and the Bills organization has already received the $80 million for the games to be played in Toronto. The Bills could careless if people show up to the games in Toronto. They already have their money!
    Playing a game in Toronto was strictly for the money they already received. They are not trying to regionalize, as you put it. 14-15,000 season ticket holders are Canadian and home games sell out already here in Buffalo. Bottom line is the $80 million received is more money then the Bills make to play an entire season in Buffalo.
    As a Bills fan, it sucks to see a regular season game being played in Toronto. Especially when there are only NFL fans in Toronto, not Bills fans. Meaning the “home” game is basically an away game because there aren’t many Bills fans up there. Not to mention, the ticket prices are insane!!!

  37. It’s PRE SEASON!! No one wants to pay full boat to see back ups play 3 quarters. The Toronto deal has helped should the league that the city isn’t ready to support a franchise yet. The Bills have made money on this deal in an attempt to expand their fan base…… smart marketing.
    If the games weren’t in Toronto, they would have been sold out at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Look at the attendance and track record for this team that hasn’t been to the playoffs in 10 years. Sell outs game after game. This team needs a winner is all and the negativity attached to this team goes away. They are going no where. Stop the garbage about them moving, they will always be the Buffalo Bills.

  38. Bills newsbyte => Florio’s reaction
    Jairus Byrd out indefinitely => Defensive playmaker out, therefore BILLS MUST MOVE TO LA
    Lynch and Jackson may miss opener against Miami => OH! BILLS MUST MOVE TO LA

  39. For some reason, some people think that anybody in Ontario who likes the NFL will go to a game and be Bills fans just because it is football. Factor in the fact that it’s preseason and the prices are still ridiculously high, its no surprise nobody goes.
    If I’m paying $200 per ticket to see a Bills exhibition game, why wouldn’t I take a road trip to a regular season game in Buffalo, Detroit, Cleveland, etc. I get to tailgate, get a real stadium experience with actual fans, see a regular season game, and pay $70 for a better ticket.
    Consider that Green Bay sells out weekly, but if you had a preseason game between the Panthers and the Seahawks at Lambeau and charged $100-$250 per seat, would more than 20,000 people show up?

  40. Paying full price for a preseason game is a joke. I would never pay it, and I’m a die hard fan.

  41. As someone who lives in Toronto and is a MASSIVE NFL fan, this is why I didn’t go to the game:
    Ticket – $135.75 for the WORST seats.
    Beer – $21.00
    Parking – $20.00
    Food – $40.00
    So I’m going to spend $433.50 for a crappy Bills game with one beer? No.
    It’s not that Canadians hate the NFL, we LOVE the NFL. It’s that I don’t want to mortgage my condo to go to a Bills game.
    The reason the other preseason games appeared to be sellouts by the way, is because Rogers gave 30,000 seats away.

  42. Why any intelligent person would pay full price to go see a preseason game in which the starters play less than 25% of the game is a mystery to me. The price of the tickets should reflect the fact that this is a preseason game and the team is playing many sub-NFL talent level players.
    The issue is further compounded by the fact that the ticket prices in Toronto are unreasonable when compared to prices of similar tickets in Buffalo. Why would I pay a premium to go see a football game in Toronto when I can drive the same distance and see the game in Buffalo for 15% of the cost of the ticket in Toronto?? (Not to mention the fact that I can tailgate in Buffalo and cannot in Toronto)
    If the Bills and the NFL are going to attempt to bring the NFL game to Canada then they should make a full heart-ed attempt instead of what is clearly only a money grab.

  43. bills9951 says:
    August 20, 2010 9:57 AM
    Bills aren’t going anywhere. Two years from now Jim Kelly will be part owner and they are moving the stadium downtown. F the jets and rex ryan
    You got that right! Jimbo will be part owner and the Bills will be here to stay! And Yes, F Rex Ryan and the J-E-T-S JETS

  44. i’m a cowboys fan in western ny, and i’ve never understood the bills playing in canada thing. they sell out ALL of their regular season games at the ralph. there’s more hammered die hards at those games than possibly any.
    but we western new yorkers know which home team really has it goin on.
    go sabres (ryanmillerisgod)

  45. recent says: August 20, 2010 11:01 AM
    Consider that Green Bay sells out weekly, but if you had a preseason game between the Panthers and the Seahawks at Lambeau and charged $100-$250 per seat, would more than 20,000 people show up?
    Here it is right here. Well said, recent.
    HarrisonHits: Toronto is a corporate sports town, many people are given tickets from large corporations as perks.
    When you pay for your tickets, you show up. When they’re given to you, you might not, especially in the summer.

  46. Why would a mega city in Toronto give two-shits about some garbage team in a rundown american city like buffalo. Seriously, Toronto is big-time, no one there supports the Bills. It’s all Cowboys, Bears and Eagle hats everywhere you go.

  47. Consider that Green Bay sells out weekly, but if you had a preseason game between the Panthers and the Seahawks IN MILWAUKEE and charged $100-$250 per seat, would more than 20,000 people show up?
    ******************** ********************

  48. The notion that Torontonians are not Bills fans due to some allegiance to the Cowboys, etc. or some belief in Taranna being big time is NONSENSE.
    The problem is that the Bills SUCK.
    How easy would it have been to market the 1988-2006 version of this team across the border?!?

  49. The real reason attendance is so low… for anyone that really wants to know, is because the ticket prices for the games are outrageous. The most expensive seat at Rogers Center is more expensive than to go to a Cowboys game in their new stadium.
    The Bills got screwed in this deal… because Rogers outpriced Bills fans.
    There’s also no tailgating in Toronto… and having spoken with tons of Canadians that travel to Bills games. Tailgating at Ralph Wilson stadium is part of the whole experience.

  50. Redtrek03 says:
    August 20, 2010 11:07 AM
    As someone who lives in Toronto and is a MASSIVE NFL fan, this is why I didn’t go to the game:
    Ticket – $135.75 for the WORST seats.
    Beer – $21.00
    Parking – $20.00
    Food – $40.00
    So I’m going to spend $433.50 for a crappy Bills game with one beer? No.
    $21 for a beer? You better get a lap dance with that beer for $21.
    Oh wait, it’s Canadian money? How much is it in real money?

  51. Florio, this Toronto-Bills series wasnt to regionalize the Bills, it was simply to put more money in Ralph’s pocket. The Bills are more than sustainable in Buffalo and the factor that Mr. Rogers sought out such a deal and paid Ralph upfront is mind boggling.
    Whether the experiment fails in Toronto doesn’t matter, Ralph got his money. Whether the Rogers centre is at full capacity or there is no one there he still gets paid.
    Yes, the tickets for the game are severely over-priced for Bills fans, but we werent their target market.
    Bills are still one of the most finanically viable teams in the league, as they have no outrageous debt on their stadium like more than half their teams and it is still in relatively good condition. Only problem with the stadium is the small unluxurious luxury boxes which are as good as our Triple AAA baseball team’s (Bisons).

  52. # EverybodyGotAIDS says:
    Oh wait, it’s Canadian money? How much is it in real money?
    Talk about ignorant. Why don’t you look it up, genius. I think that you’d be surprised.
    BTW, when people were complaining about being paid in CDN$, it was 70 cents on the dollar, so even at that rate, it would be $14.70 for a beer. Can you think of an NFL stadium that charges that much for beer?

  53. @Redtrek03
    Beer was 9 dollars when I went a year ago. Who the hell buys food at a game other nachos anyways?
    My tickets were 55 a piece too for upper deck.

  54. 50yrd line tickets $500, end zone between $275-$155, upper deck between $125-70. pre-season game!
    Really Mike, is this truly suprising or any indication on Toronto’s ability to help the Bills stay in Western New York?
    If you were in Toronto, would you pay $70 to be in the nosebleeds for a pre-season game?
    Did you even know that the poor attendance figure might be caused by these prices that look like they should be for a playoff game, not a pre-season game?
    I usually laugh at all the people that constantly rip you in your posts but I have to say on this one it looks like you didn’t do your homework.

  55. No one is going to pay that money for a preseason game…. also I don’t know why the NFL thinks Canadians all cheer for the Bills, we don’t no one outside of Buffalo likes the Bills….at the Bills/Fins game there were more Fins fans than Bills fans even the Bills players said that

  56. I’m suprised anyone would show up to a preseason game! Is there any bigger waste of money than preseason football tickets?

  57. There were maybe 20000 at kickoff but into the second-quarter, the 39,000 figure was more accurate.

  58. There’s just so many things wrong with the Buffalo Bills playing in Toronto, with the most obvious being that they sell out all of their home games for the most part. People in Canada are too busy eating bacon and drinking maple syrup to give a crap about the NFL.

  59. People from Toronto don’t care about the Bills….that’s why the 8 game deal was stupid in the first place….for the Rogers Comm. Corp.
    The Bills have already been paid the 90 million dollars to sell 8 games over 5 years….attendance means nothing to the Bills unless the desire is to sell an attitional 8 games 2 years from now. The Bills fans don’t like the arrangment because it means 2 out of the five years, we lose a regular season game and still have to buy 2 preseason games.
    The real Buffalo fans in Canada are from towns like Oakville, St. Catharines, Fort Erie, Burlington, Hamilton, etc……people who are from Toronto, like Toronto Sports…….why would someone from St. Catharines or Hamilton drive farther to get to Toronto (than Buffalo) and pay $300 to watch a preseason game.
    Anyone who has been to a game at the Ralph can verify that the parking lot is always filled with Canadian football fans (wearing Buffalo attire). They like to come to Buffalo because the prices are low, they can drink and cook outside, and the drive isn’t bad at all.
    It sucks to drive in Toronto, you are not allowed to tailgate, and the prices are stupidly high. Buffalo fans in Buffalo will certainly not go there, and the real Buffalo fans from Canada do not live in Toronto.
    The Bills remain in the top 50% of NFL teams when it comes to monetary value/worth. I will never understand why people think that Buffalo is the most likely candidate to move. Ticket sales are fine, Jersey sales are fine, TV rights and advertising is doing just fine. Could you imagine if they started to win games again? If this is the state of our franchise after 10 years of no playoffs, then I have absolutely no fear of losing my team.

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