The Bills may not have a long-term deal to play in Buffalo, but they soon may have a multi-year arrangement to keep playing games in Toronto.
“We’ll be having an announcement on that,” Rogers Communications vice chairman Phil Lind said Friday, via the Associated Press. “It’ll be soon.”
Bills CEO Russ Brandon agreed. “We hope to announce a new deal in the near future,” he said.
Per the AP, the deal is expected to cover five years, the same length of the expiring arrangement. Despite recent speculation in the Buffalo media that the package could expand the number of regular-season games from five in five years to eight in five years, the AP suggests that the same one-per-year formula will be employed. Preseason games also could be included.
Brandon recently has said that the Bills will be playing only one regular-season game per year in Toronto.
The price paid by Rogers Communications is expected to be less than the $78 million forked over in the first deal to export Bills games to Canada.
Though some may assume that a five-year deal to play in Canada means that the Bills definitely won’t move for at least five years, the agreement likely will have language requiring the Bills to continue the arrangement only if they are headquartered in Buffalo. The powers-that-be face the far bigger challenge of working out a long-term lease that makes it difficult if not impossible to move the team after the passing of founder and owner Ralph Wilson. With the notion that his family will sell the team a foregone conclusion, the fact that a team worth perhaps $800 million in Buffalo would be worth perhaps more than $2 billion in Los Angeles will make it hard to stay put just for the sake of staying put.
That’s why perhaps the best solution would be for Wilson to sell the team now to someone who is truly committed to remaining in Buffalo. Unless and until that happens, folks in Western New York have every reason to be nervous about the future — especially with a Band-Aid lease that requires the team to be there for only one more season.