TORONTO (AP) -- Despite difficulties selling Toronto fans on the
Buffalo Bills, a senior Rogers Communications executive tells The
Associated Press his company is committed to extending the team's five-year series in the city beyond 2012.
Saying Rogers is in it for "the long haul," company vice chairman Phil Lind says the possibility has also been raised of
expanding the Bills presence by splitting games between Buffalo and Toronto.
Lind later explained that he didn't mean a 50-50 split, but was
instead open to adding at least one additional game in Toronto,
particularly if the NFL goes ahead with plans to expand its 16-game schedule.
2-On-Your-Side's Adam Benigni spoke with Silvio D'Addario, who is a VP of Events for Rogers and works to present the Bills in Toronto Series
"You know I absolutely am focused on the games under contract...but as an NFL fan... do I want to see it end after 2012... absolutely not.
ADAM BENIGNI: Is Toronto a city that would support an NFL team?
D'Addario: I believe that wholeheartedly."
Lind and D'Addario spoke Friday, two days before Buffalo (0-7) plays Chicago (4-3) in Toronto.
The revelation comes as the team prepares to begin negotiations for a new stadium lease at season's end. Erie County owns Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Bills' lease runs through the 2012 season.
Each year the county invests millions of tax dollars into stadium improvements.
2 On Your Side's Aaron Saykin spoke with Erie County Legislator John Mills (R), who represents Orchard Park, where the stadium and team officers are located.
REPORTER: Should we keep spending that money if the Bills are going to be playing fewer and fewer games in that stadium?
MILLS: That's something the county executive is going to have to address. Certainly, if I was on the negotiating team with the county and with the Buffalo Bills, that would be a real discussion point.
A spokesperson for Erie County Executive Chris Collins said Collins will protect the interests of the taxpayers, but that he is "very optimistic a deal will get done," and that "the team will remain here."
The question is how much of the team will remain. Both Collins and Mills believe the Bills may have to play more games in Toronto to stay in Western New York, which is an economically-depressed region.
Both leaders said the Bills must continue to expand their fan base into Ontario.
"Maybe that's the best thing in the world for us to have that anchor so close to Buffalo," Mills said. "Maybe that would prevent the Bills from leaving Buffalo."
REPORTER: Five years from now, 10 years from now, how many games do you think the Bills will be playing in Toronto?
MILLS: Well, if it continues in Toronto, and things can change, I would think the scenario might be maybe a third. If it goes to a half, they'll move the team.
2 On Your Side's Aaron Saykin and Adam Benigni contributed to this report.