Bills seek approval to play in Toronto
It appears the NFLcould finally come to Toronto.
The Buffalo Bills announced on Thursday that they are seeking approval to play one pre-season game and at least another regular-seasoncontest at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. The move is part of the team's plan toimprove its market attraction outside western New York.
"The team hopes to capitalize on the increasing interest of fans in the Canadian market by playing a regular-season game in Toronto," the Bills announced in a release.
Buffalo officials are aiming to play a pre-season contest in Toronto next summer, and one regular-season game in 2009.
The franchise still needs consent from both the county and state to play "home games" outside Ralph Wilson Stadium, which is required by its lease that runs through 2012.
The Bills are bound to play half of their pre-season and all regular-season homes games at the Orchard Park stadium.
Team officials began the process of bringing the NFL to Toronto by sending a letter to Erie County on Wednesday.
While Buffalo would also require approval from the NFL, the move is considered a formality as the league is already scheduling games in other international markets.
The Miami Dolphins and New York Giants will square off at London's Wembley Stadium in two weeks for the first regular-season NFL game outside North America. In 2005, the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers played in Mexico City.
The league also has aspirations of staging its centrepiece event — the Super Bowl — beyond the Canada-U.S. border. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suggested the league could be looking to Toronto as a possible host when he visited Arizona's training facility on Monday.
"It wouldn't be surprising if the Torontos of the world and the Londons of the world say, 'We want a piece of that,'" Goodell told reporters.
The Bills remain adamant that their plan to play in Toronto is not the first step in relocating north of the border. For more than three decades, Toronto has been viewed as a possible destination for an NFL team, with the Bills most often mentioned as a prime candidate.
With files from the Associated Press