Argo fans get 1st crack at Bills tickets

The Buffalo Bills officially announced their plans to play eight games in Toronto on Wednesday.

The Buffalo Bills officially announced their plans to play eight games in Toronto on Wednesday.

Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr. and communications mogul Ted Rogers were among the officials on hand at a news conference at the Rogers Centre to announce plans for the games.

The NFL club revealed they will play five regular-season games and three pre-season contests over the next five years, with Toronto Argonauts season-ticket holders getting guaranteed and priority access to the first 20,000 tickets before they go on sale to the general public.

A ticket lottery will be used for the general public, with fans having to enter an online registration to secure admission to the games

Argonauts' CEO Michael (Pinball) Clemons views the games as an opportunity to promote the Canadian game.

''We at the Argos see this as an added value to an already great season ticket package,'' Clemons said.

"Furthermore, if this opportunity exposes more people to the great game of three down football, through the sale of more Argos season tickets, that's good news for the CFL. One of the primary goals of the Argonauts' organization is to grow the sport of football in the GTA, and this opportunity will expose more Torontonians to our sport.''

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell already confirmed last week the league will allow the Bills to play in Toronto, though the NFL reserves the right to choose dates and opponents.

The Bills will play one regular-season game at the Rogers Centre each year from 2008-2012 and play pre-season games in 2008, 2010 and 2012.

The deal arises from the team's perennially poor ticket sales for mid-to-late December, when the temperature drops and the snow begins to fall in Buffalo.

The Rogers Centre, being a domed facility, seemed a natural alternative.

The arrangement also signals the Buffalo club's intention to exploit the southern Ontario market, which has a fan base of more than five million people compared to 1.25 million in western New York.

An estimated 10,000 to 15,000 Canadians already attend each Bills home game at Ralph Wilson Stadium, which has a seating capacity of 73,967.

The CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats, which were reported to be in on the agreement, announced Monday they won't participate.

"Bringing NFL games to stadiums in Canada without a comprehensive agreement between the CFL and the NFL will lead to unintended consequences — not all of them good," Tiger-Cats owner Bob Young said in a statement.