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The NFL in Toronto

2008 May 7
by Phil Miller

When readings Skip’s post on the CFL this afternoon, I noticed this article listed as being one of the most popular over at the Toronto Globe and Mail. It describes the pricing of tickets to Buffalo Bills games being played in Toronto in the next few years:

Tickets for the Buffalo Bills’ eight-game series in Toronto will average $183 per seat — more than triple the cost for the team’s home games at Ralph Wilson Stadium this season.

The ticket prices, ranging from $55 to $295, were released Wednesday by the Toronto-based group hosting the series, which will have the Bills play five annual regular-season and three preseason games at the 54,000-seat Rogers Centre through 2012.

The prices are in Canadian money, which is currently near par with the U.S. dollar, and do not include a large bulk of VIP sideline and hospitality suite seats, which will raise the average even higher.

Despite the hefty price, organizers anticipate the games selling out after 180,000 ticket requests were registered on a Web site last month. About 30,000 tickets per game will be distributed in two weeks by lottery to Internet registrants as well as a limited number of Bills and CFL Toronto Argonauts season-ticket holders.

Compare those prices to the prices of Toronto Argonauts games. Single game tickets are not for sale yet for the 2008 season, but choice seats in their 3-game package go for $189 total and season tickets range from $300-$700 for a 9 game home season plus a few other other goodies.

Which brings me to one of Skip’s thoughts about why government subsidies have been hard to come by for CFL teams:

It is possible that the CFL makes so little money and has such a small impact that the relocation threat is not operative. There is in fact relatively little demand for football stadiums, public or privately financed.

It’s anecdotal, I realize, but there seems to be high demand for NFL football in Toronto. That may simply be due to the novelty of NFL football being played in Toronto. Or perhaps it’s due to the value of the NFL brand name, a value the CFL may not have in it’s country.

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