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Buffalo Bills won't play in Toronto next season

03/05/2014 08:53 EST | Updated 05/05/2014 05:59 EDT
The Buffalo Bills announced on Wednesday that the team will not play a home game at Rogers Centre in Toronto during the 2014 season.

The move had been rumoured in recent days as the Bills release information this weekend on their home ticket package.

The club in a statement stopped short of saying that the experiment is over for good. The Bills and Rogers extended the series two years ago to run through 2017.

“The Buffalo Bills and Rogers are committed to delivering a first-class NFL experience to Canadians," the statement read. "As such, we have postponed for one year the scheduled 2014 regular season game at Rogers Centre in Toronto, and that game will return to Ralph Wilson Stadium. We will use this time to collectively evaluate opportunities and build on the foundation to enhance future games."

The Bills have gone 1-5 in regular-season games in Toronto, winning two pre-season contests.

The team has played to a less than full building, regardless of opponent, or if the game time was scheduled for Sunday afternoon or Thursday night.

For the team's 34-31 overtime loss to Atlanta in December, the announced attendance at Rogers Centre was 38,969. That's just more than half of the sellout figure for a game at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

That game was arguably most notable for the appearance of embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, which caused a stir.

Opposing offences playing the Bills in Toronto have rarely had to deal with crowd noise, and the series has been criticized for being unable to preserve the tailgate culture that exists in Orchard Park, N.Y.

The atmosphere hasn't been helped by the fact the Bills have often been essentially out of the playoff hunt for the late-season games, held four out of six times in December.

The series in Toronto was announced with much fanfare in 2008, with Rogers paying close to $80 million for eight games  (five regular-season and three pre-season) over five years. Buffalo historically has drawn thousands of fans from Ontario to games in Western New York, a region whose population base has shrunk in the last couple of decades due in part to economic woes.

The announcement raised questions about the club's future home schedule, as there has been no defined succession plan in place for the Bills beyond owner Ralph Wilson, who turns 96 in October and has owned the club since its inception in 1960.

The first regular-season game of the series in 2008 against Miami had an official attendance of just over 52,000, the highest for any game in the venture. 

Despite the struggles, the extension of the partnership was announced in early 2013.

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