Owners Supportive of Bills' Proposal to Play Some Games in Toronto
PHILADELPHIA--The NFL's franchise owners began discussions of a proposal by the Buffalo Bills to play a limited number of their home games in Toronto.
The Bills have received state and county approval of the proposal, which they say is designed to increase the franchise's regional appeal. The measure also would have to be approved by the league, although no vote of the owners is expected to be taken at this two-day meeting.
"There's no deal right now," Bills owner Ralph Wilson said during a break in today's meetings. "It was discussed. I think it would be good for everyone."
Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney said his understanding is that the Bills are seeking to play six games in Toronto over a four-year span, although he did not specify how many of those would be preseason games and how many would be regular season games. Previous indications have been that the Bills are seeking to play one preseason and one regular season game in Toronto annually, beginning next year.
"That's good for them," Rooney said. "That's a good experiment. That's close to them.... I have no problem" with the proposal.
Rooney said he could not completely rule out an objection being raised by another team, however.
"Somebody might raise an objection to anything," he said.
But other owners also said they were supportive.
"There's a sensitivity to what that club has been dealing with," New York Giants co-owner Steve Tisch said.
Said New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft: "We would support it if it helps the Bills franchise."
Houston Texans owner Robert McNair said some issues involving taxes, border crossings and visiting teams' expenses will have to be worked out but they aren't major impediments.
"Any team that's in a smaller market should be encouraged to expand their market," McNair said. "I think it's very positive, and I support it."
The league is making a push to expand its international appeal. The Giants and Miami Dolphins are scheduled to play this weekend in London. Commissioner Roger Goodell even has mentioned the possibility of staging a Super Bowl overseas, but Rooney said he might not support that.
"I'd have to give that a lot of thought," Rooney said. "I'd say I'm against it right now, but I'd have to think about it."
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