(Reuters) - The Buffalo Bills’ Canadian experiment came to an official end on Wednesday when the National Football League team and Rogers Communications announced they had terminated an agreement to stage the Toronto Series.
”We greatly appreciate the support we’ve received over the past seven years from all of the tremendous people at Rogers Communications,“ said Bills President Russ Brandon in a statement. ”We will continue to work hard to solidify our footprint in Southern Ontario.
”Our fan base in this region remains extremely important to our organization and their support has been well documented.”
The Toronto series began in 2008 when the Bills became the first NFL team to host a regular season game in Canada.
Over the next six years the Bills played six regular season contests and two preseason games at the domed Rogers Centre.
After the original five year deal expired the Bills and Rogers in 2013 agreed a new five year pact to run through 2017 but then postponed this season’s game to “regroup”, according to Keith Pelley, the president of Rogers Communications’ media division.
Playing in one of the NFL’s smallest markets, the Bills had sought to expand their fan base by staging regular season games in Toronto.
The games, however, were played mostly in front of unenthusiastic crowds while Bills fans bristled at having one of their eight home games each season taken away.
There had been speculation the Canadian telecommunications giant had been positioning the company to purchase the team and move it to Toronto.
However, when owner Ralph Wilson died earlier this year Terry Pegula acquired the club for a reported $1.4 billion and vowed to keep the team in Buffalo.
Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Alan Baldwin