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22 May 2008

Walkthrough: Paying the Bills

The Mega Bills

There are big league cities, like New York and Chicago, and there are minor league cities like Scranton and Sheboygan. Other cities lie somewhere in between: They have large populations but no major pro sports presence (Birmingham, Oklahoma City), or they are smaller burgs that happen to host one or two teams, like Green Bay or Salt Lake City.

Buffalo has long been one of those in-between cities: small by international standards, but large enough to host the Bills and the NHL Sabres. Now, Buffalo is close to losing some of its big-league luster. The Bills will play three preseason and five regular season games in Toronto, starting this year and ending in 2012. The so-called Toronto Series is a likely precursor to a permanent move to Canada. The Wilson family plans to sell the team after patriarch Ralph Wilson passes away, and the deep-pocketed conglomerate led by telecommunications mogul Ted Rogers is the most likely bidder.

A Bills move to Toronto could cripple Buffalo, a city already on the economic ropes. But ironically, it would make the whole Buffalo region stronger.

Things are tough all over, but the economy of Western New York has been stagnant for years. "The economic expansion of the mid- to late 1990s passed Buffalo by," according to Buffalo News business columnist Dave Robinson. Robinson painted a grim picture of a city that was unable to replace old-line manufacturing businesses with high-tech, high-growth industries. The only major corporation now headquartered in Buffalo is M&T Bank, which spent its stadium-naming money down in Baltimore. While cities like Baltimore and Pittsburgh, historic industrial towns like Buffalo, rebuilt their downtowns into cultural centers in the last 20 years, Buffalo lacked the resources to do the same. "They're working like the Dickens to get something going downtown," Robinson said. "But the city lost its critical mass 20 years ago." There's no rush hour in downtown Buffalo anymore; a motorist can cruise through the metro area in a matter of minutes.

But while the city of Buffalo is dying, the nearby region is flourishing. This region spans two nations: the Buffalo-Rochester area in western New York, and the Toronto metro area in southern Canada. Toronto is the financial capital of Canada, and if you yoke its economy onto Buffalo-Rochester's, you get a powerhouse mega-region.

Richard Florida, economist and author of Who's Your City?, explains the mega-region concept. "Mega-regions are the driving forces of the world economy. A mega-region is an area that hosts business and economic activity on a large scale, generating a lion's share of the world's economic activity and an even larger share of the world's innovation and technological discoveries." Toronto-Buffalo-Rochester (TBR) is one of just 40 significant mega-regions in the world. According to Florida, it's responsible for $530 billion in economic output. It also ranks highly among world mega-regions in worldwide innovation patents and what Florida calls "star scientists," two indicators that TBR is positioned to compete against other regions as a high-tech research and industrial center.

Strapping U.S. and Canadian cities together seems a little disingenuous at first, but Florida explains that it's vital to everyone's financial interests to think outside the borders of states and nations. "Much of our public policy ignores the rise of mega-regions and, sometimes, works against them. If we want to bolster economic competitiveness, policy leaders across country borders and state lines must pursue policies that take mega-regions into account."

Buffalo and Toronto are just a few hours apart; Maple Leafs fans often travel to Buffalo when their teams play the Sabres, and Buffalo baseball fans often take day trips to watch the Blue Jays. By moving across the border and closer to the center of the TBR mega-region, the Bills can acquire a much-needed influx of corporate-caliber cash. "The Bills are like your parents who bought their house 50 years ago," Robinson explained. "Their mortgage is paid off, so they don't need a lot of income to get by." The Wilson family can turn a tidy profit on television revenues, but the next owners will cough up as much as $800 million. They'll need luxury box revenue and other income sources to offset their initial debts. "We don't have a deep stable of companies," Robinson said. "The Bills couldn't dream of selling a PSL." Ideally, Toronto would provide the companies, with Buffalo providing the loyal fan base.

It's one thing to embrace macroeconomics, but quite another to root for a team that sings a different national anthem before games. While Bills fans are among the most loyal in the NFL, Robinson is not sure how many would follow the team to Canada, not when the Steelers, Browns, Jets, Giants, and Patriots offer attractive regional rooting interests. "Over time, it would settle into the relationship locals have with the Blue Jays," Robinson said. "The Bills would be a nearby team to go to."

However, the Toronto Series, with its multi-venue format, could help fans acclimate to the idea of a regional team. The Toronto Series allows the Rogers group to use the novelty and rarity of NFL football to charge super-premium prices to Toronto fans. At the same time, the Wilson family gets a $78 million payday from the Rogers group, and can also charge slightly more for games at Rich Stadium because of decreased supply. Over a period of a few seasons, the Wilsons and the Rogers conglomerate could tweak the 7-to-1 Buffalo-Toronto game arrangement. The Bills could end up playing four games in each venue, just as the Packers split time between Green Bay and Milwaukee in the 1970s and 80s.

Some fans may abandon the Bills if they become Canadians or vagabonds, but Florida sees a big difference between a move within the TBR region and a move to, say, Los Angeles. "Economic development, more than ever before, is about talent attraction and retention. Creative types are concentrating in communities that are open, diverse, and thick with an array of amenities. Major league sports help to create an authentic community, one that is appealing and engaging for people of all walks of life." The designation "major league city" still means something in the world of high finance. Toronto will use pro football to enhance its international profile; the official Toronto Series website (www.billsintoronto.com) touts the city as "international, sophisticated, ethnically diverse, fascinating and passionate about sports." That designation could apply to the whole TBR region, which could in turn use the Bills as a drawing card. "Authenticity is important to creative workers," Florida said. "Professional sports teams, similar to a region's arts community and its unique neighborhoods, help make a region unique."

The Bills are one of the few things lending "authenticity" to Buffalo; without them (and the Sabres), Buffalo has little to offer that can't be found in Elmira or Erie, Pennsylvania. "The Bills are our last lingering vestige of being a major league city," Robinson said. "People take a lot of pride in them." Re-imagine Buffalo as a small part of a thriving mega-region, and the fans of western New York can keep their allegiance to the Bills. A clever name change might help. Fans from Charlotte to Charleston can claim the Carolina Panthers, so a well-chosen name can help broaden a team's identity. That national border is tricky, but that's why there are public relations firms. The Lake Ontario Bills? Not great, but they laughed at "Tampa Bay," too.

The Bills need a big, thriving region. According to Florida, big, thriving regions need teams like the Bills. The eventual move to Toronto could be a win-win situation for the team and for area fans. Buffalo's loss may be the TBR's gain.

Lions in your Inbox

This from the Consumerist blog (www.consumerist.com): When Lions season ticket holder Kevin Furlong emailed the team to correct a problem with his ticket package, he got a surprising response. The e-mail read: "Lance...he is not talking about you here. Mark was asked to speak to these people and he said no. F... 'em until next year."

Lance and Mark, of course, are Lions employees. Mark is Mark Graham, ticket director. "Reply All" is further proof that God has a sense of humor.

When a Detroit reporter suggested to Lions COO Tom Lewand that the e-mail incident was an example of the franchise's general lack of quality, Lewand provided a typically mature, rational Lions response. "If you write that, it will be factually incorrect and bordering on slander. And I will come after you." Lewand later clarified that he wasn't actually threatening the reporter. I know I've communicated my point well when I have to later explain that I wasn't, in fact, threatening the listener.

"Reply All" incidents have been common in Detroit since Matt Millen personally installed the new mail server. For example, Rod Marinelli sent a Reply All e-mail to some of his ex-Buccaneers players with a SigningBonus.txt attachment, and a few weeks later the Lions had signed Brian Kelly, Chuck Darby, Corey Smith and Kalvin Pearman. Millen himself is in delicate negotiations with the son of a foreign prince; if he can just get the money that's currently frozen in that Swiss bank account, he'll be able to afford Gosder Cherilus' signing bonuses. As a user-friendly feature, the Lions e-mail server comes with the following options:

1) Reply
2) Reply All
3) Reply Obscenely (for season ticket holders)
4) Reply Defensively (for media criticism)
5) Reply Threateningly (for local reporters or Mike Martz)
6) Reply Enthusiastically (for agents of overrated first round picks)

It's foolproof. But then again, it has to be. Matt Millen is a guy who never used the CC button in his life because he thought it sent his e-mail to Charley Casserley.

School Daze

If this week's Walkthrough sounds a little scattered, it's because I am trying to juggle Pro Football Prospectus responsibilities with end-of-year teaching activities. There's a danger that halfway through any sentence I could lapse into PreCalculus final exam question mode. That could confuse readers who expect traditional football when the graph three periods of the function y = 3 - 4 cos (pi/6 x) and label all maximum and minimum values. Oops. See what I mean?

It's nice to know I am not alone in my juggling act. Rob Rang of NFL Draft Scout is not just one of the top draft evaluators in the business, but also a high school teacher and –- shudder –- yearbook advisor. I asked Rob to sit for Five Questions so I could commiserate with someone as crazy as I am and celebrate the near end of the school year.

What's it like to be both a high school teacher and a sportswriter? 'Cuz, honestly, I can't imagine it.

It can be difficult, at times. However, I've found sleep deprivation to be a surprisingly effective tool in grading -- whether it be term papers or quarterback progressions.

Ever get stuck in a Catch-22, like having a dance to chaperone on April 26th?

Thankfully, few general managers elect to actually dance at Prom anymore, making it a rare occurrence when more than a few teachers are needed to chaperone. It just isn't the cool thing to do anymore.

Early July. No school. No football. Heaven, or are you clawing your eyes out and hoping for something to do?

For the past five years, July has meant the beginning of summer school. Rather than teach that again this year, however, I may take this summer off. There are a few steelhead and Chinook salmon I hope to make the acquaintance of in the coming months.

Between you, me, and the Internet, did you ever give your students a study hall and, say, crank out a mock draft or some scouting reports? Because I am far, far too ethical to do anything like that.

Are you kidding? Their final exam requires breaking down the specific attributes needing to project a 4-3 defensive end to the 3-4 rush linebacker position. Extra credit is available for students who correctly cite Bill Parcells, Dick LeBeau, and/or Dom Capers.

If a student says he/she wants to pursue a career in football journalism, what advice do you offer?

Try for something with better benefits -- like fast food service.

By the way, Rob is kidding about the exam. Please don't fire him. Or me.

Attack of the Clones

The news came across the crawl on NFL Network while I was watching Top Ten, which is one hell of a program (you never know who you'll see as a talking head). The Falcons just signed Jamal Lewis and Tony Gonzalez.

Say what?

Was this a misprint? A hallucination? One of those "test the crawl" dummy news stories that accidentally goes live when someone pushes the wrong button? Or was Arthur Blank spending big bucks to recreate my 2002 fantasy team?

If Blank somehow managed to acquire two high-profile veterans in late May, it would cause a Pro Football Prospectus 2008 nightmare. It would be worse than the Super Bowl winning quarterback flipping his motorcycle and having a near-death experience three days before deadline, like in 2006. I broke into a sweat. Gonzalez and Lewis to the Falcons? That would screw up three team comments and whole pages of player comments! Plus, if I missed news like that during my book myopia (much time is spent studying Ruvell Martin's third down DVOA at the expense of all else), what else have I missed? Did Brett Favre become a super-delegate? Did the Lions curse out a season ticket holder?

Thankfully, it only took a little digging to learn that the Tony Gonzalez in question is a former Boston College receiver who spent 2006 out of football. He played with Matt Ryan, so at least he has a high-placed friend in Falcons camp. He also attended Framingham High School, which means he grew up in Aaron's backyard. This Jamal Lewis is a safety who finished third on Georgia Tech last year with 75 tackles.

OK, so they are street free agents. So what's with the famous names? Are the Falcons just trying to confuse people? Take last year's top pick: Jamaal Anderson, just like the famous "Dirty Bird" running back, but with an extra "a" in his first name. This is an organization that once had two star receivers named Alfred Jenkins and Alfred Jackson. Their head coach shares his name with a close colleague, a well-known ESPN reporter, and a Ravens linebacker. C'mon Blank, your organization is too bad to be this confusing. All future free agent signings should have names as distinctive as Ovie Mughelli.

OK, I am done whining. Time to get back to PFP 2008, specifically the special teams comments. I see the Falcons signed Jason Elam in the offseason.

Wait, that is THE Jason Elam, right?

In two weeks: I warm up the diagramming software and talk with a kindred diagramming spirit: a woman who calls herself "the evil queen of the obscure."

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 22 May 2008

91 comments, Last at 02 Jun 2008, 3:40pm by Mike


by Independent George (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 10:46am

Permanent link for the Lions story is here.

by Toxikfetus (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 10:50am

Fans from Charlotte to Charleston can claim the Carolina Panthers, so a well-chosen name can help broaden a team’s identity.
Niagara Bills? The Niagara River forms the boundary between the two countries and both have a city of Niagara Falls.

by Lee Gibbons (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 11:04am

That Toronto-Buffalo-Rochester region is a good idea in theory, but I don't think either Buffalo or Rochester would be considered as a major part of the super region. There are bigger cities than either of those closer to Toronto on the Canadian side of the border. Hamilton is home to Canadian steel industry and Kitchener-Waterloo is growing fast and home to RIM (makers of the Blackberries).

by Independent George (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 11:06am

I think Blank is pioneering a new era of COIN in the NFL. The next step is to change the fonts on the jerseys so that you have to squint to tell numbers like '88' and '86' apart. Then start drafting nothing but 270 lb TEs/OTs to play all non-QB positions on offense, and contractually obligate them to change their names to 'Greg Lloyd'. Eventually, they'll field an entire team consisting of nothing but 270 lb Greg Lloyds (which might be the third or fourth most terrifying thing in the universe).

by Aaron (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 11:11am

Niagara's not a bad regional name, although Niagara Bills sounds kind of lame to me. Maybe it's just because the Bills have one of the worst names in the NFL.

by Joe T. (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 11:18am

The Bills would need to change their mascot as it would no longer make any sense, much like the Tennessee Oilers.

FYI - a team called the Buffalo Bills played in the AAFC back in the late 40s. Its probably one of the more clever names in pro sports, unlike Ravens, which tries to be clever and is just boring.

I'd be curious as to how a move to Toronto would affect the Argos. They are one of the oldest sports franchises in the world. I'd much prefer a situation where they were brought into the NFL fold, but thats not likely.

I do believe the the Lions organization is using Mozilla Thunderbird and have installed the DetroitLionsReplytoAll.xpi extension.

by Kneel Before Zod! (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 11:25am

I promise to cheer for them enthusiastically if they name themselves the Great Lakes Avengers.

by Shawn (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 11:41am

Great story. The Buffalo News just ran a three-part series on the Buffalo/Toronto relationship, and it pails in comparison to this story. I think if Buffalo is to have any chance at seeing this idea work, they need to build up the relationship with Toronto and then build a new stadium closer to the Canadian border. Otherwise Buffalo will be a one sport town.

If they change the city designation from Buffalo to a regional name, they can't keep the Bills part. The only reason Buffalo Bills works is because of the Buffalo part - I mean, what the hell is a Bill? I'm a Bills fan and I still don't know.

The funny thing is this position could change in 10/15 years. Buffalo real estate is dirt cheap. If I wanted to start a company or move a corporate headquarters, I'd have to look in Buffalo if I wanted to save some money. It only takes one company to start the ball rolling...(this might just be pie in the sky thinking from a fan that doesn't want the Bills to be lost).

Re #3 - Rochester is home to some pretty big companies itself - Eastman Kodak, Constellation Brands (think Corona), Bausch & Lomb, Rochester Midland Corp, Paychex, etc etc
Xerox started in Rochester, but moved corporate headquarters. Anyway, the TBR mega-region isn't a "theory" when it is responsible for "$530 billion in economic output" like Tanier says.

by starzero (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 12:02pm

what's wrong with just the niagra falls? or is that too literal?

great lakes avengers sounds pretty rad to me. i'd buy a jersey just for that.

by James, London (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 12:11pm


Never happen. It's far too close to "The Viagra Bills". Although there are sponsorship opportunities in that....

by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 12:17pm

The Wilson family can turn a tidy profit on television revenues, but the next owners will cough up as much as $800 million. They’ll need luxury box revenue and other income sources to offset their initial debts. “

This confuses me. If the Bills' revenue is so low, why would they sell for $800 million? Sell them for $150 million (or whatever you can get) and keep them in Buffalo.

by billsfan (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 12:18pm

If they put the stadium right on the border, they can call the team the Border Collies. Which wouldn't be lame at all.

by funtime42 (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 12:22pm

Actually, the Bills were named after that AAFC team (it was the winning entry in a contest to name the new AFL franchise). Renaming a relocated franchise can be tricky though - The Titans don't have a link to their past any more, while the Arizona Cardinals might have had better luck with a new identity.

by dryheat (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 12:24pm

The Can-Am Bison? Not that there's much bison in the area...but they'd get to keep their helmets.

by Beef on Weck (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 12:37pm

Good piece on the Bills, Mike. One note - those fans who go to see the Jays play in Toronto are Yankee and Red Sox fans, not Jays fans.

There is a bad endgame to this that if Rogers buys the team and moves it, it would take some care to establish a bond to the new team through WNY. I don't know if he is that sensitive to establish and keep that bond...and you end up with another NFL stadium filled with corporate fans with no spirit. Sorry - but I have no interest in that. That's a real danger, not only for the future of this organization, but for the NFL at this point (see Dallas' PSL and season ticket costs for their new stadium as an example).

Also, an interesting question to come from your piece is what %age of season ticket holders come from Canada? I want to say that 20% of Sabre season ticket holders and 10-15% of Bills season tickets holders come from Southern Ontario right now (that's a SWAG, though). All I know is when I tailgate at the Ralph, there are more than a few Ontario plates there tailgating right along with us.

by Beef on Weck (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 12:43pm

#10 - The Bills revenues are in the bottom third of the league at/around $190M/year. Please refer to this Forbes article for the estimated Bills "value", which is over $800M.

The executor of his will will have the responsibility of getting the most $$ for the team as possible. It seems that even though Wilson could make other arrangements to avoid having the team leave the area after he dies, it appears he will no choose any of those options (which include pre-selling a portion, leaving it to his wife, etc.).


by VinnyMurphSully (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 1:22pm

Considering the negligible amount of economic impact sports franchises have on their communities, depressed regions are better off letting their teams walk rather than being extorted every decade or so for a new stadium, PSLs, and the like.

Sports franchises, particularly NFL franchises, are vanity purchases. Leave it to the big boys.

The regional idea is interesting, though. Can Buffalo simply be annexed by Ontario and escape having to live on NYC's table scraps? Erie County could be Canada's weather-friendly vacation hotspot! We'd be Canada's Florida! Minus the confounding stupidity of real Florida!

by Mystyc (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 1:29pm

I'm with #9. If you can have the Colorado Avalanche, you can have the Niagara Falls. (Although what's your mascot gonna took like? A guy in a barrel?) Of course, it's what Peter King or Bill Simmons would refer to as making too much sense to actually happen.

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 1:48pm

Re #11
It's all about cash-flow management. Generally, when people do things like pay $800 million to buy a sports franchise, they take on debt to help finance the purchase. They'll probably borrow as much of that as they can (read a lender will let them), and pay down that amount with revenues from this new business. If they only have so much revenue coming in, their flexibility w/r/t financing terms and how they react to a downturn in actual v. expected revenue is limited. Not a problem for Wilson, because he didn't have the debt, but it will be for anybody who buys the business.

This is also why, for example, the NFL likes to approve owners, to ensure they have enough money the potential new owner isn't close enough to the margin they could be forced to sell the team in a year or 3. But, there's only so much they can control. If it is a deep pocket and there's no worry about a forced sale, a new owner is better off with more money coming in. Funny how that works.

by Dan (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 1:53pm

Not sure what this has to do with the NFL, but I'm getting extrema at (-18,7), (-12,-1), (-6,7), (0,-1), (6,7), (12,-1), and (18,7) on the three-period domain [-18,18]. I don't have a labeled graph to show you in this comment box, but the shape is a standard sine curve, as linked below.

by keas (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 2:51pm

A few factors not mentioned in the article:

1) the Rogers Centre (formerly Skydome) -- owned by said telecommunications mogul Ted Rogers who is rumoured to be interested in purchasing the Bills -- does not meet the NFL minimum requirements for a football stadium (to my knowledge) The Rogers Centre holds just 50,000 people. I suppose there's some potential to expand the size of the stadium but that's limited.

2) The Toronto Argonauts CFL team. It's long been said that the NFL moving to Toronto would kill the Argos and possibly the entire Canadian Football League. There would be considerable political resistance to letting this happen and could create roadblocks/headaches for anyone who wants to move an NFL team to Toronto. It would be very difficult for this reason to convince any level of government to pony up for a new stadium if point #1 is correct and a new stadium is necessary.

3) A cultural observation as a Toronto resident: there are ALOT of Bills fans in Toronto. Every NFL team has a certain pocket of support here but the Bills are considered by many the 'home' team. I'd wager that of every 10 NFL fans in Toronto, 6 are fans of the Bills. The remaining 4 of 10 cheer for the remaining 31 teams in some descending order resembling their American fanbase (lots of Cowboys, Steelers, Dolphins, 49ers fans....not too many Cardinals, Jaguars and Texans fans). But it's a pretty one-way relationship. The majority of Buffalo residents coming up here for baseball games are Yankees and Red Sox fans.

Me? I'm a Seahawks fan. But I've been known to cheer for the Bills in a Superbowl or 4.

by dork matter (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 2:54pm

What in the sam hell is a "PSL"?

by Cyrus (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 2:55pm

Instead of Lake Ontario Bills, just plain Ontario Bills would work.

Or they could flip it up and keep the mascot-- become the Ontario Buffalos.

Niagara Buffalos?

We're getting somewhere, I think.

by Harris (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 3:18pm

#7 Starting QB: Squirrel Girl.

All of this ignores a basic question: Why should Buffalo have a team if the city can't support it? Canton was once an important industrial city and nobody turned backflips to keep the Bulldogs around.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 3:20pm

great article--thought provoking (Buffalo) and gut-busting (Detroit). But I'd expect nothing less from my favorite math teacher/journalist.

And super comments too. When there's no axe to grind (i.e. spygate, etc) the commentary can be both fun and well-informed. Niagara Falls wins my vote, though the mascot can be problematic. It's as powerful and majestic as any sight in nature, but does not lend itself well to a helmet side or a foam rubber costume. I hope the team, in some semblance, can be saved for the region.

PSL = personal seat licenses, IIRC.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 3:24pm

Oh, and Indy's 1st round pick last year is also named Tony Gonzalez. Sometime in college... maybe his 1st or 2nd year his sharp as a tack grandma (maybe still practicing law in her 70s? she sounds very cool) said "the NFL already has a Tony Gonzalez. You should go by Anthony." And so it was.

Moral of the story: Always listen to Grandma. Or you might become a punchline in a Mike Tanier article.

by Enkidu (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 3:25pm

Re #7 - GLA is a great nickname for an NFL team, . . . just not sure a Canadian city would allow it. They'd want a nickname linked to Canadian history, so you're looking at maybe Gamma Flight?

by Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 3:44pm

Would the Bills have to move out of the AMERICAN football conference or would Roger let that one go?

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 4:08pm

I'd like to thank Mike for taking half my day from me. I've been reading articles on the Consumerist for hours now ...

Lee, you left out a selling point for the Canadian side: Hamilton made a run at acquiring a franchise of its own. I don't think there's much doubt that the area could support two NHL franchises (although I suppose that sets up a joke in there somewhere).

by Tom D (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 4:21pm

The side of the Helmet can always be a letter (maybe a B on one side and T on the other?), or something abstract (see: the steelers, and the cowboys). The mascot can be only tangentially related or not related at all. The Spurs mascot isn't a giant boot, the Suns mascot is a gorilla.

by Independent George (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 4:22pm

#25: Niagara Falls wins my vote, though the mascot can be problematic.

Barrel McFalls?

by BD (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 4:44pm

Regionalization is a nice idea... in theory. Most Americans outside of upstate New York may not realize that the northwest part of Lake Ontario is booming economically and is home to some 8 million people stretched from Niagara Falls through Hamilton and Missisauga to Toronto--it's known as the "Golden Horseshoe" (see link)

But the problem is that the affluence of the Golden Horseshoe ends at the Niagara River. And previous efforts to bring the Canadian dollars into Western New York have been unsuccessful. Take, for example, Rochester's horrific failure at putting in a high speed ferry to and from Toronto.

There are recent causes for optimism. Recently, Canadian shoppers have been flocking to Buffalo shopping malls to take advantage of their strong currency. So I hope this works out without a full move to Toronto.

As a possible compromise, the Niagara Bills could build a new stadium right on the border elevated over Niagara Falls. Or build an island in Lake Ontario for the stadium.

by BD (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 4:48pm


The region CAN support the Bills, at least right now. They are currently one of the most profitable teams in the league despite their low revenue, due to Ralph Wilson not owing any money on a stadium or in purchasing a franchise. The problem is a new owner would need to pay slightly more than $25,000 to buy the Bills these days.

And there is not always a correlation between the size of a market and its ability to support an NFL team. See Rams and Raiders, Los Angeles.

by Vincent Verhei :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 4:50pm

You know, I was considering pointing out that "Great Lakes Avengers" was perhaps the geekiest reference in the history of this sight, and then somebody brought up not Alpha, not Omega, but GAMMA FLIGHT. Kudos to you, sir.

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 4:50pm

Re #24
PSL = Personal Seat License. Wiki link in name since I don't feel like writing up my own explanation. A good way to get a one-time cash infusion and do some price discrimination (i.e., soak your wealthier/less price-sensitive fans).

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 4:51pm

Well, it's in my name now. I think.

by dwrett (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 6:09pm


The Bills are named after the old AAFC Bills. Which were named after Buffalo Bill Cody who gained fame as a bison hunter in the west. Which is why the Bills mascot is a buffalo.

by Roscoe (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 6:14pm

NIAGARA FALLS!!! Slowly I turned, step by step . . .

by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 6:51pm

It’s all about cash-flow management. Generally, when people do things like pay $800 million to buy a sports franchise, they take on debt to help finance the purchase.

Yes, my question was why the Bills are worth $800 million in the first place. The answer seems to be that they are worth $800 because they can be moved to Toronto and make lots of money. Which makes the statement in the article that the team will have to move due to low revenue incorrect, since the entire valuation is based on the assumption that the team is going to be in Toronto. If the assumption was that the team would stay in Buffalo, the valuation would be much lower.

So when the new owner says 'gee, whiz, I'd like to keep the team in Buffalo, but just can't afford it' he'll be lying through his teeth. The move to Toronto comes as part of the package. If he had wanted to keep the team in Buffalo, he'd have bid less than $800 million.

by Insancipitory (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 7:04pm

The Bills logo isn't just a Buffalo, it's a Buffalo getting shot in the head. Which, is sort of appropriate given the discussion.

by Randy S. (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 7:28pm

10 - I think they should call them the Niagara Viagra. It rolls off the tongue.

by josh614ohio (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 7:42pm

i think its a stupid ideal the bills have no bussiness in canada its the national football league means usa canada has their own boreing league i been the bill fan since i knew what football was this it stupid im so mad i will not root for them if they was in canada and chaged their name...the only way i would root 4 em if they moved here to columbus ohio the home of the ohio state buckeyes

by Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 8:23pm

If the Bills move to Toronto, they should play in the CFL. If Trent Edwards got hurt, something tells me that sadly JP Losman wouldn't be the best QB in the league.

To replace the Bills, the NFL needs to bring up USC from the minors. The 07' trojans defense would have a decent pro LB core, a nice DT, some ballas in the secondary and a spark plug in Mcknight.

by Ben (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 8:27pm

josh614ohio = billsjoe

by Harris (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 8:54pm

#24 Yes, but we're talking about tomorrow, and tomorrow, when the new owner is ass-deep in debt, the team's marginal profitability, in terms of actual dollars, is going to be a problem. Population is irrelevant if there isn't enough wealth to keep the team viable.

by glengarry (not verified) :: Thu, 05/22/2008 - 11:36pm

re: 'that is THE Jason Elam' ...

I was working a few years ago on the copy desk at a local newspaper on a Sunday night, and knew I needed a very reasonable 6 points from Jason Elam on MNF to win my fantasy matchup. Was putting together the obits page and had some space to fill so I searched the AP wire for all obits and the first one up is slugged (titled) OBIT -- ELAM ...

I had a major freakout, until i clicked and read that it was Jack Elam, famous for playing wino sheriffs in bad cowboy movies.

that is all. :-)

by Bobman (not verified) :: Fri, 05/23/2008 - 12:45am

#30 Tom D that is Brilliant! And instead of a stripe down the middle, make it a wavy blue line to represent the river. Might as well have some fun with it!

Regarding the mascot, well, a guy in a barrel would be funny, a guy in full hockey goalie regalia would be kind of funny to Americans at least. Does the Jazz have a mascot? The Heat? Magic? The Reds? Either Sox? Hey, the Sonics have Sasquatch, and once they move to Oklahoma... they'll change to another non-team-related regional quirk, like a tornadoed trailer park or an oil derrick. But I digress.

Well, they could fit in the NORTH American Football Conf if not the AFC. And not the NFC either, but the I-NFC (or just IFC). If freakin' Jets and Giants can be called NY teams, you might as well call the Bills the Key West Bills and move them to Ontario.

My God, Abbott and Costello jokes. How many people would get those?!?! A new raiderjoe? A bison being shot in the head.... Folks it is an honor, I repeat--an honor--to be reading this thread. No vituperation or acrimony, plus it keeps me from doing actual work. Always a bonus.

by Doug Farrar :: Fri, 05/23/2008 - 1:32am

Well, this is interesting. From the Bills' PR department today:

Orchard Park, NY - The Buffalo Bills today announced the team has surpassed 50,000 season tickets for the upcoming season.

The number marks the highest season ticket total since 1993, when the Bills posted 53,004 season tickets. In 2007 the Bills sold 48,236 season tickets.

"This certainly highlights the passion and commitment this region has for the Buffalo Bills and NFL football," said Russ Brandon, Buffalo Bills Chief Operating Officer. "With nearly four months remaining before the season opener, we expect momentum to continue."

The Buffalo Bills season ticket campaign extends through Thursday, August 28, when the Bills host the Detroit Lions in a preseason contest at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

by langsty (not verified) :: Fri, 05/23/2008 - 3:03am

"Does the Jazz have a mascot? The Heat? Magic? The Reds? Either Sox?"

Ha! Yeah, they do actually. In order; Jazz Bear, Burnie, Stuff, Gapper, SouthPaw and Wally.

by lobolafcadio (not verified) :: Fri, 05/23/2008 - 4:41am

Would the mohawk be mandatory for the GLA players ? It would give them a local flavor...

by Alex (not verified) :: Fri, 05/23/2008 - 6:28am

Any actual reason the little bit about globalization was thrown into this article?

Because I really have no interest at all in reading about the subject on a football site.

Stick to football.

by Mike Tanier :: Fri, 05/23/2008 - 8:02am

And here I took a Great Lakes Avengers joke out, assuming it was too obscure.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 05/23/2008 - 8:59am

Re: 42

Congradulations! I don't think I've ever seen a post where the ONLY punctuation was an ellipsis.

Re: 47

"Step by step..." was an Abbott and Costello bit? I thought it was a Three Stooges bit. I'm positive I've seen them use it (I'm fairly sure it was a Shemp episode).

by Roscoe (not verified) :: Fri, 05/23/2008 - 9:32am

#53. It was the Stooges (although I understand it was based on an old vaudville routine). Anyway, lets try the old "link in my name" stuff.

by Kevin from Philly (not verified) :: Fri, 05/23/2008 - 10:43am

#32 - good idea: put the stadium in the middle of the river, so that if they miss another Super Bowl winning FG, the falls would be conveniently close. Maybe the PSL's would include first dibbs on a barrel.

One question that no one has addressed: I've heard that Canada has a lottery where you can pick the NFL games on any weekend. Supposedly, you can win half a million $C. What happens to that, if the NFL is now in-country?

by Alvoid Mays (not verified) :: Fri, 05/23/2008 - 1:33pm

Interesting article titled Can Buffalo Ever Come Back? linked in my name. It's about the city, not the team. It's not optimistic.

by Richie (not verified) :: Fri, 05/23/2008 - 4:13pm

10 or 15 years ago I heard somebody suggest the idea that there would come a time when sports franchises might not be tied down to cities the way they are now.

Instead of the Dallas Cowboys, you might have the Reebok Cowboys. They might play most of their games in Dallas, but they would also be able to schedule games anyplace they want.

by Rocky the Philly Eagle (not verified) :: Fri, 05/23/2008 - 5:33pm

The City of Buffalo needs to sell its naming rights. The team would automatically be named one of the most intimidating things I know of..... the AT&T Bills. The Comcast Bills, T-mobile Bills, the Wynn Casino Bills would all work too the possibilities are endless!!

The team could also change their name to the Buffalo Balls - large sweaty and full of testosterone, a good analogy for a football team. Then they can be the Niagra Balls when then they move. And the Viagra Balls when they need a little corporate sponsorship.

by Insancipitory (not verified) :: Fri, 05/23/2008 - 9:15pm

Has anyone looked at the economics of the Buffalo community starting up some sort of public entity to purchase the Bills in the event of Wilson's passing? Presumably they have a few years, and perhaps hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) nationwide who'd want to own a share of the New Buffalo Bills. Even as a Seahawks fan, the idea of actually owning a piece of an NFL franchise is pretty attractive.

by mm (not verified) :: Fri, 05/23/2008 - 10:36pm

Ouch, I finally get around to writing replies, and there are several I want to respond to. Guess I'll just go in order.

21- The Toronto Argonauts CFL team. It’s long been said that the NFL moving to Toronto would kill the Argos and possibly the entire Canadian Football League. There would be considerable political resistance to letting this happen and could create roadblocks/headaches for anyone who wants to move an NFL team to Toronto. It would be very difficult for this reason to convince any level of government to pony up for a new stadium if point #1 is correct and a new stadium is necessary.

I don't live anywhere near Canada, so I can't speculate how the NFL would affect the CFL (though I've come across Canadians in different parts of the world who want to talk NFL). However, if this caused political troubles in Canada would it help if the NFL offered a 2nd team to Canada (say an expansion team in Montreal or Vancouver)?

One of the ways leagues traditionally deal with competing leagues is to expand in their cities. For the NFL, 2 teams in Canada would probably solidify the Canadian fanbase (would this boost Canadian tv ratings for the NFL, or are they already close to those in the US?). For the politicians, trading a local league for 2 big league teams (rather than 1) might be a better sell. The 2nd franchise could first be offered to a group of current CFL owners, to try and keep everyone happy.

Yeah, I know Vancouver and Montreal have each recently lost a major franchise in other sports, but an NFL franchise is a different beast.

23- Or they could flip it up and keep the mascot– become the Ontario Buffalos.

Niagara Buffalos?

I like that name, though I'm not positive the people of Buffalo would appreciate it.

28- Would the Bills have to move out of the AMERICAN football conference or would Roger let that one go?

Well, it is a part of the Americas, and it is American Football they'll be playing.

51- Any actual reason the little bit about globalization was thrown into this article?

Because I really have no interest at all in reading about the subject on a football site.

Stick to football.

Whether a city can keep/get a franchise is all about economics, and globalization is a key part current and future economics. This is part of the business of football, which a lot of people are interested in, and its key to understanding why there will be NFL games playing in Toronto and London this year.

57- 10 or 15 years ago I heard somebody suggest the idea that there would come a time when sports franchises might not be tied down to cities the way they are now.

Instead of the Dallas Cowboys, you might have the Reebok Cowboys. They might play most of their games in Dallas, but they would also be able to schedule games anyplace they want.

As I understand it, that's how the Asian Baseball leagues are currently organized.

by mm (not verified) :: Fri, 05/23/2008 - 11:13pm

59- Has anyone looked at the economics of the Buffalo community starting up some sort of public entity to purchase the Bills in the event of Wilson’s passing? Presumably they have a few years, and perhaps hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) nationwide who’d want to own a share of the New Buffalo Bills. Even as a Seahawks fan, the idea of actually owning a piece of an NFL franchise is pretty attractive.

This is how the Packers are currently structured. However, the rules of the NFL prevent any other team from being owned by such a group.

by NY expat (not verified) :: Fri, 05/23/2008 - 11:35pm

re: 39
First, I hope, for tradition and the loyal Buffalo fans, that the team manages to stay in Buffalo.
That said, to be fair to the hypothetical buyer in your scenario, the problem is that since the seller could get $800M because they can be moved to Toronto, that would be the going rate. It's up to the seller to say, "We *could* get $800M, but our price is only $50M [or whatever the appropriate price would be] with the constraint that you keep the team in Buffalo." I am a bit doubtful that the Wilsons would go that far.

by FullMoonOverTulsa (not verified) :: Sat, 05/24/2008 - 12:47am

60 - Canada is already pretty into the CFL, and most of us are already fans of a certain team. There are lots of Bills fans in Toronto, Seattle fans in Vancouver, etc, but each city is pretty diverse with lots of Bears/Cowboys/Dolphins etc fans.

62 - Wilson has apparently stated that he wants the team to be sold to the highest bidder upon his death. The team is worth much more in LA than Buffalo, but I suspect the buyers must be approved by the league.

by Darrell (not verified) :: Sat, 05/24/2008 - 9:14am

Interesting theory on the Falcons player procurement. So do you think their 2003 draft was an attempt to subliminally boost concession sales when they closed out Day 2 with Bacon and Veal? Kinda like the drive-ins from the 70's splicing in a frame of popcorn at the end of the first movie, get a shot of the back of their jersey's on the bigscreen right before halftime. Brilliant. In the time that it took me to peck this out, I've become really hungry.

by andrew a (not verified) :: Sat, 05/24/2008 - 11:24am

Perhaps instead of stadium naming, why not have team naming.

Hamilton is about halfway between Buffalo and Toronto (and also home to a CFL team)... and as was noted, home to Blackberry making RIM. The Buffalo Blackberries? The Lake Ontario Rim? (referring to all the areas bordering Lake Ontario?)

Buffalo is not actually on Lake Ontario (actually on Lake Erie) but its close enough that it might work.

by Zac (not verified) :: Sat, 05/24/2008 - 11:41am

Sheboygan isn't big enough to be minor-league. The only team that exists beyond the high school level is the Sheboygan A's of the Wisconsin State Baseball League and Northeastern Wisconsin Baseball League, and I can't verify that they even get paid. I mean, they've got a 40-year-old pitcher.
/went to high school in Sheboygan

by Bright Blue Shorts (not verified) :: Sat, 05/24/2008 - 12:08pm

Ted Rogers? Perhaps they'll put Dusty Bin at quarterback ...

(Comment for the benefit of the Brits who read)

by TomC (not verified) :: Sat, 05/24/2008 - 1:45pm

47, 53, 54:

Abbott & Costello used it as well, but as Roscoe points out, the basic routine predates them & the Stooges. (Link in name)

by James, London (not verified) :: Sat, 05/24/2008 - 4:27pm


BBS, that is an awesome reference. Though it'd be an easy snap count to jump...

by Bright Blue Shorts (not verified) :: Sat, 05/24/2008 - 5:13pm

Re: 69 ... Nice. You got the bit in there that I couldn't.

And of course the hand signals will be useful in some of the loud domes.

by Clarice Starling (not verified) :: Sat, 05/24/2008 - 6:53pm

To keep the naming theme, the Bills could move to Mark Twain's hometown and become the Hannibal Lecters.

by Smiling Bob (not verified) :: Sun, 05/25/2008 - 1:24am

49, actually Gapper is not the mascot of the Reds, he is the mascot of The Great American Ballpark, and we all hate him. The Reds mascot is Mr. Redlegs, who replaced the superior Mr. Red. They are different characters or atleast they used to be considered separate. Mr. Red can be very scary when you are a young boy.

by jebmak (not verified) :: Sun, 05/25/2008 - 12:00pm

I was going to declare #20 the winner, but then #31 happened. Very nicely done both of you.

by Gringo Starr (not verified) :: Sun, 05/25/2008 - 1:39pm

Why keep the Bills in Buffalo if there's no money in town? The NHL made a huge mistake moving teams out of small, hockey-rabid Canadian cities, to big southern US cities that didn't know what ice looked like. The Bills have been one of the worst teams of the last decade, and yet they consistently sell out home games, and next season they have more season ticket holders than the Rogers Center has seats. Screw with that fan loyalty and it won't just hurt the Bills, it'll hurt the sport and the league.

I think Ralph Wilson's idea of 'regionalizing' - ie. building Toronto and Rochester fan bases without moving the teams - is legit. I can think of two things that would help. One, move the stadium. Orchard Park is way south of the city, and is a pain to get to from Buffalo, let alone Toronto or Rochester. Put the stadium along I-290 - you can take 190 down from ONT, or 90 from points east. In particular, Google Map the spot where 190 and 290 meet - it's empty riverfront property; probably worth about $500 and a plate of wings on the open market.

Second. Why do people go to a game in Buffalo? It's freezing cold, you get a better view on TV, and yet people start tailgating the day before. It's the comraderie with other diehards. When the team's in Toronto, or even playing a regular away game, they should put together a massive, team-sponsored tailgate to watch the game. The Memorial Auditorium, where the Sabres played for years, is sitting empty. Put the game on the Jumbotron, get a beloved ex-player to emcee (is Fred Smerlas busy?) fill the floor with food vendors - not overpriced stadium fare, but wings, beef on weck, chicken finger subs - all the artery-clogging goodness Buffalo's known for. Charge $10 a head, and take a cut of the concessions - you're now making ticket revenue even when the stadium is empty. If the indoor tailgate works, do one in Toronto the 15 weeks the team isn't playing there. Do one in Rochester; Hamilton; Syracuse; keep expanding the empire outwards. There's lots of Bills fans out there, and a smart owner can keep the team viable by harnessing them wherever they may live.

by John (not verified) :: Sun, 05/25/2008 - 7:36pm

#57: 20, 25 years ago I read a short story set in the near future based around "combat football", where the players didn't wear pads, and the fans had to sign waivers to attend.

Each team was geared towards a particular fan demographic, like blue collar workers, perhaps a little more specialized than that.

The teams would travel the country, playing in different stadiums, and the fans would go beat the crap out of each other while the teams played.

Not terribly unlike the football the rest of the world knows.

by Tom G (not verified) :: Sun, 05/25/2008 - 9:57pm

I think Bills are selling all those tickets because they see the writing on the wall. I don't think it matters, teams don't make any money selling tickets to the average fan, it's all about selling the luxury boxes to wealthy and corporations which doesn't have to be shared. Unfortunately Buffalo doesn't have enough of either.

I'm a lifelong Bills fan, and the best-case scenario seems to be a 50-50 split with Toronto. Unless Ralph Wilson sells cheap before his death I don't think there is a local buyer with enough money. I think the majority owner must have a 30% interest, so if the 800 million figure is accurate one would need almost 200 million. The Sabres almost moved out of town that year because they had a hard time finding an owner would would purchase that franchise for a fraction what an NFL team costs.

Wilson says he won't sell before his death, and once he does his estate is legally obligated to get the most money possible.

I think I would root for the team if it had a partial Buffalo connection. If it goes to LA, forget it.

by Zzyzx (not verified) :: Tue, 05/27/2008 - 2:27pm

"20, 25 years ago I read a short story set in the near future based around “combat football”, where the players didn’t wear pads, and the fans had to sign waivers to attend."

That story is pretty amusingly dated now since part of the point of the games was to defuse student/police riots.

by Jimmy (not verified) :: Tue, 05/27/2008 - 3:26pm

I know that this comment isn't really football (OK it isn't about football at all), but it is about buffaloes (OK it isn't about buffaloes either if I am honest because I am really referring to bison). Anyhoo, why was Bill Cody referred to as a 'buffalo hunter'? What I mean is I see the challenge involved in stalking a deer, or pursuing some kind of agile animal. Not that I personally would want to blow the poor creature into oblivion, but I do see that there is an element of skill involved.

However as far as I can ascertain buffalo hunting simply involved finding a herd of bison (not too difficult when there could be tens of thousands of the buggers in one herd) and then blowing them to kingdom come from about 100 yards away. Now these buffaloes were ten feet long and weighed up to 2000lbs. They also seem not to have bothered doing much in the way of hiding as outside of humans not many predators would have wanted to mess with over 1000 angry two ton beasties. I may be digressing slightly but my main question is why is it considered to be hunting? I have never fired a rifle in my life, but would expect to be able to hit something that big and slow from 100 yards.

by Insancipitory (not verified) :: Tue, 05/27/2008 - 6:39pm

Well, what you could do is go out to Yellowstone park and try to approach one. (Do Not Attempt) After it kills you, or nearly so, we'll be able to read about it's surprising speed and reputation for being ill-tempered. They're huge, fast, skittish and mean. You might be surprised how fast large animals are.

by Mark (not verified) :: Wed, 05/28/2008 - 11:17am

If your stating that Buffalo should lose the Bill's because of population declines. Should you not judged all NFL cities by the same standards. If it's cities that have bigger loses in it's population add these cities also. Chicago, Philly, Baltimore, and you cant't forget about Detroit, which has the largest of lost population. All northern manafactoring cities have lost jobs and population have they not? Buffalo of today is not a dying city. Buffalo of 20 years ago maybe, it's not the case today. Major eivdence of this is the make over of it's harbor. At a cost of over 53 million dollars this includes the rewatered, 184 years old commericial slip of the Erie Canal. This is the start of a 400 million Canal side project. This along with the Seneca's Nation of Indians, builiding a 333 million dollar luxury hotel and casino. within blocks of the harbor project. If the Bill's are to become a true regional team, where many pro sports franchises have gone. Would it not make sense that the regional fan might go for a expense to drive to a beautiful facility on Buffalo waterfront. Should not New York State help Buffalo and Bill's like they have done for NYC and the Yankee's and Met's? The Bill's would be able to generate the revenue to stay! All NFL owners are business men. What business man would not want to become a part of a billion dollars in construction business? This is going on in the City of Buffalo, a city that has been reborn!

by Tom D (not verified) :: Wed, 05/28/2008 - 4:02pm

Chicago the city, might have lost population, but it's only because they moved to the suburbs, mostly because they had more money. According to Wikipedia it is still the 3rd largest metropolitan area by a large margin (about 3.5 million above the Dallas-Ft Worth area), and has grown 4% since 2000. That's for a total of 9.5 million population. The Buffalo metropolitan area by comparison is only 1.1 million and has shrunk 3.5% since 2000.

Some of the other cities you mention, Philly has 5.8 million people and grew about 2.5% since 2000, Detroit has 4.4 million people and has grown .34% since 2000, and Baltimore is part of the DC metropolitan area which has 5.3 million people altogether and has grown 10.6% since 2000.

Link to the article in my name (it has the top 567 metropolitan areas in order)

by Mark (not verified) :: Thu, 05/29/2008 - 7:14am

What Chicago suburbs are you saying that have some much money that people are just running too? Start South are you talking about Riverdale,Dolton,Harvey,Robbins? Let's go west are you talking about Bellwood, Maywood, that point is very moot! Let's talk about the U S census. Philly lost 135,943 people. Detroit lost 156,853 people. Cleveland lost 62,303 people. Pittsburg lost 57,060 people. St. Louis lost 45,926 people. Baltimore lost 98,589 people. And New Orleans lost 273,550 people the later is really the saddest of them all. It seems to me that a lot of NFL cities are losing population. So all of them had better think about Mega-regions

by Anthony (not verified) :: Thu, 05/29/2008 - 12:58pm

82: You arent getting it, the metro areas of all those cities gained population, except for Pittsburgh, and Cleveland, which are still about twice the size of Buffalo. The only other NFL Metro that lost population was New Orleans.

For what its worth Toronto would be the 6th largest NFL market at about 5.5 million, though if you consider that a Toronto team would likely become "Canada's team" that would increase the potential market to over 30 million.

by Mark (not verified) :: Thu, 05/29/2008 - 2:47pm

I get the point totally, Let me ask you this have all american pro sports done well in Canada? MLB? The NBA? The NFL would want to lose a whole sports base from Pa.,WNY,CNY, in hopes that it will do well there? Argo die heart fans are not going to go all out for America football! The NBA, MLB came in because it was no other Canadian pro sport teams to compeat with. That's not the case with the NFL and the well established CFL.

by Tom G (not verified) :: Thu, 05/29/2008 - 9:28pm

82 - I've lived in western New York my whole life and the scenario you spin is pure pollyanish (I'm not sure that is a word, but I'm going with it anyway). The state, county, and city have no money for building a new stadium on the waterfront, assuming that is what you are implying.

It's all about the corporate dollars buying luxury boxes and expensive seats via PSL's. That's money teams get to keep, not share. Unfortunately there are not a lot of corporations in town, compared to other cities, to buy those seats and boxes. None of those problems in Toronto. Selling out a stadium, at ticket prices well below the average NFL ticket price, won't cut it once Wilson goes and a new owner has to pay off millions in debt.

Speaking of which, who in WNY has the kind of cash? Not too many, if any. I afraid the best case is a franchise-share with Toronto. Wost case is Los Angeles.

by mm (not verified) :: Thu, 05/29/2008 - 10:28pm

What American sports have failed in Toronto? MLB? NBA? MLS? What exactly?

by Mark (not verified) :: Fri, 05/30/2008 - 1:14am

When did Toronto become all of Canada? And MLB failed in Montreal. They were lucky to get 1,000 fans no mater what teams came into town! Oh I forgot they don't think they are apart of the country! And the NBA failed in Vancover, did it not? In last accounts, they are still Canadian Cities are they not?

by Anthony (not verified) :: Fri, 05/30/2008 - 9:06am

The Grizzlies and Expos were both sabotaged in their respective cities by their ownerships.

The Raptors do very well, and the Blue Jays do okay as well.

by mm (not verified) :: Fri, 05/30/2008 - 10:42pm

Mark, you're trying to say argue the Bills shouldn't move to Toronto.

Toronto's record hosting teams is vastly more important to the conversation than the record of Montreal and Vancouver.

by Mark (not verified) :: Sat, 05/31/2008 - 1:27am

I am a Bill's fan so of course I would say and want that without a question. Still in the 75 Mile radius of Buffalo lives 3.5 Million people! My thing is this, check the record. The NFL does not like to compeat with other Pro football leagues. So if the argo's are not worth keeping than fine! The NFL would run them out of town! Now how would Candians fill about an American business running one of there businesses out with a merger with the NFL. Because if you know the history of the AFL, if the NFL can't beat them, then join them, that's what they will do. It's called a monopoly! (See USFL), That's there history!! I don't know how candians fans will fill about not having the CFL anymore? Just wondering? I for one like the CFL, I grew up watching it on the CBC! I'm sure it's great rivalries and history would be lost. Look at the whole picture. What other teams would come in and have NFL ready stadiums? The B.C. Lions? I'm sure there dome is not NFL ready. The rest of the CFL play in stadiums that can't even rate on the American colleges level. so does Toronto for that. Just asking?

And mm, your saying that because, Toronto, thinks it is canada, and the rest of the country does not rate with it! The Question posted was American Pro Sports in all of Canada , not just Toronto!I understand what the question of the conversation is on, I was asking a question to show a point of view!

Anthony, MLB and the NBA could not have venues on TV shown back to the states with no fans!It was an embarrassment to the respective leagues.

Answer this, do you have Hockey night in Canada. Or hockey night in America on the CBC? Most NHL teams play in the U.S. right? Civic Pride? So understand what Buffalo has for it's Bill's!

by Mike (not verified) :: Mon, 06/02/2008 - 3:40pm

As someone who grew up around Buffalo and still gets to a game or two per year, I've got to say that a move by the Bills to Toronto would kill my fan-hood for the team. There's very little chance I'd get up to Canada. Given the upcoming passport requirements and thoroughly unpleasant cross-border commute, I'm done. I love the Bills, but they cease being the Bills then, whether they keep the name or not (which is a terrible idea whenever they do it; Arizona Cardinals? St. Louis Rams?!? REALLY?!?!?!).

I haven't heard the notion of a Toronto-Buffalo-Rochester area team, but it's not a bad idea. Too bad the Rochester ferry thing didn't work out. The Niagara Falls is flat out the worst team name I have ever heard. It sounds like they're made to be beaten. Given the team's recent sub-.500 seasons, I'm not sure it's fear inspiring.

Great Lakes Avengers? I love the concept of naming a professional sports team after an obscure comic book super-team, but I'm not sure it really flies with everyone.

As for the NFL rules against a publicly owned team other than America's beloved Packers, I hadn't heard that. It's ridiculous if it's true. It's a great way to ensure that teams stay in their original place and have a loyal following around the country. I'd buy stock in the Bills even though I live in Rhode Island. Sign me up.