The franchise has inquired about the possibility of playing a game in that city, about 100 miles north of its Orchard Park stadium, as soon as next year, according to multiple reports.
“Beginning in 2008, the team plans to increase its focus on the northern sector of its market,” a statement attributed to Bills’ officials said. “The team hopes to capitalize on the increasing interest of fans in the Canadian market by playing a regular season game in Toronto.”
Toronto is often a rumored destination for the Bills beyond the ownership of Ralph Wilson, who celebrated his 89th birthday Wednesday. Wilson has declared the team will be sold once he passes away.
The Bills have tried for several years to build support north of the border and apparently are ready to do so again. The Buffalo-Niagara Falls metropolitan area has a population of roughly 1.1 million, while the Toronto metropolitan area has roughly 5.1 million residents.
“The support of the Canadian fan base has led to the Bills recent sellout streak which has enabled the Bills games to be televised locally in the Western New York market,” the statement said. “This extension of the regionalization effort is designed to enhance the viability and competitiveness of the franchise in Western New York.”
The timing of the announcement, coincidentally, comes as the Bills play host Sunday to the Baltimore Ravens. Former Bills’ running back Willis McGahee, traded earlier this year to the Ravens, was roundly criticized for saying in a magazine interview that the Bills should move to Toronto.
The National Football League is embarking on a schedule that calls for regular season games outside the United States on an annual basis. A game in London is scheduled for this month between the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins. In addition, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell this week floated the notion of playing the Super Bowl overseas, potentially in London.