By Tim Graham
Promoters for the Buffalo Bills series of games in Toronto have whacked prices for this year's game in the Rogers Centre.
Bills season-ticket holders on Monday received an email, informing them the average ticket for the Dec. 16 game against the Seattle Seahawks has been reduced 35 percent compared to previous years.
The Toronto deal has been viewed as a farce by most folks not employed at One Bills Drive. The Bills made out quite well financially, exporting eight games -- three preseason and five regular-season -- for $78 million.
In return, Rogers Media was on the box-office hook. It didn't matter if the stadium was jammed or tumbleweeds rolled through; the Bills' money was guaranteed.
But the games failed to become genuine events, as both sides hoped. Local fans declined to put up with the border crossing and QEW traffic. Canadian fans didn't flock to the turnstiles either.
Tickets had to be given away by the stack to avoid the additional embarrassment of an empty stadium. Even so, the atmosphere inside the Rogers Centre was antiseptic for Bills games. It felt like a warehouse.
Outrageous ticket prices and the Bills being a perennial doormat were the biggest issues. The Bills have tried to correct their problem this offseason. Rogers Media apparently is trying to correct its problem.
This will be the final installment of the original agreement between the Bills and Rogers Media. The NFL approved an extension for five more years, 2013 through 2017. Lower admission costs were promised.
Fans won't have to wait for the discount.
Tickets have plummeted. They now range from $48 for 500-level seats to $225 for field-level VIP seats. (EDIT: The prices previously noted here included an apparent TicketMaster surcharge. I have corrected to reflect face value.)
A few examples:
* Midfield seats in the 100 and 200 levels used to be $575. They're now $225.
* End-zone seats in the 100 or 200 levels were $155. They're now $85 and $95.
* The cheapest seats were $99 in the higher reaches of the 500 level. Some of those seats are now $48.
* Many 500-level seats have been reduced from $155 to $85.
The email sent to season-ticket holders stated: "Those that have already purchased tickets as part of the Bills in Toronto Series have the option to receive a refund for the price difference or be upgraded."
All of this is great news for Bills fans. Games are now more affordable, and that will make the trip much more tolerable if they want to head up-and-back the day of the game. Or the friendlier prices will allow fans to use some of that extra money to make a weekend out of it by getting a hotel room, visiting restaurants and shopping.
The game-day experience should be exponentially livelier with more average fans in attendance.
The ticket adjustment, however, doesn't portend well for the Bills' next windfall. There had been reports the next deal won't be as lucrative for the Bills as the first one. Box-office prices for Dec. 16 give a glimpse into that.
(Photo: John Hickey/Buffalo News)