Sunday, December 07, 2008

Bills make me want to...stay home and watch on the couch just like every other week

I had great intentions. I was all set to head down to the Dome this afternoon to do some sort of Gonzo piece on the first regular season NFL game in Canadian history (tm). But, then I looked and saw that it was -9C with a nasty windchill and, well, I do pay Rogers a lot of money so it can beam me signals of sporting events into my home.

What? Like you would have gone.

I'm not sure what sort of atmosphere one could have expected down there anyway. What with that wind coming off the lake. I did go for a walk down by the building that really should have been called the ConDome (what? as if that wasn't the No. 1 vote getter in the name the stadium vote way back when) just before the preseason event and the atmosphere was, well, like a late summer day in Toronto. That is to say that there were as many people sipping Tall Skinny Carmel Lattes with a half sweetener on Front Street as there were NFL fanatics.

No one will be stupid enough to be sipping anything on Front Street today. Maybe that's a good thing as it will give the Budweiser people a good excuse as to why no one showed up to their official tailgate (nothing says tailgate like spending $10.75 to drink beer out of a plastic cup). Hopefully they gave the Bud Girls a parka to wear.

It will also make it a little more difficult for those looking to dump their seats. It's a buyers market, really. You don't want my $50. Fine. Freeze. I'm going over to that nice, heated pub to watch this middling game of debatable importance. Of course the Buffalo people are probably really peed off now that the Miami game is being played indoors.

As for me? I'm doing what any reasonable person would do. Sitting on the couch with a Corona in hand, a legally questionable $20 wager placed to make things more interesting. Go Dolphins. Double my coin, well ya.

EDIT: It doesn't look like I missed much atmosphere.
Based on the crowd reaction, the game could've been played in Timbuktu rather than Toronto, because this was as foreign a "home" crowd as the Bills have ever played in front of. The setting was decidedly not blue-collar Buffalo, with Blue Jays and CFL Argonauts banners hanging from the rafters and nearly as many orange and aqua Dan Marino, Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams jerseys among the 52,000 fans.
But, at lesat the crowd got a great game, right? Right??
The attraction of the National Football League's descent on Toronto was that, after having to sit through all those pesky NHL and NBA and Major League Baseball contests over the years, Canada's biggest city would finally get a taste of the big leagues. All those other games are fine, but the NFL - that's the big time, kids. Now let's see those wallets.

What Toronto actually got, in the first regular-season NFL game on Canadian soil - or artificial turf, anyway - was something less. What it got was a pretty uninteresting NFL game, between two NFL teams that aren't exactly the Dallas Cowboys. For an average ticket price of $183, with a high end of $575, Toronto got to sit through an NFL game that was played at, and was about as exciting as, room temperature.
Then, of course, there was all the money being made and the excitement of a packed park down at the house that Fred McGriff built. Oh, wait...
...the press box estimate was that the place was about 7,000 people shy of full. Attendance, meanwhile, was announced at 52,134, a shade below the stadium's NFL capacity of 54,000. Given that the game was proclaimed a sellout last on Thursday of last week, that's quite the accounting error ... If you wanted another example of how this didn't seem to be the gold mine that the late Ted Rogers proclaimed it would be, there was the row of nine vacant luxury boxes at the south end of the Rogers Centre.

Oh well. There is always the International Bowl to look forward to...

Edit 2:They still aren't very happy in Buffalo.


Anonymous said...

You didn't miss much.
In fact, you didn't miss anything at all.
The most ballyhooed non-event in the history of Canadian, uh, Toronto sports.
Watching this game reminded me of when I got my four wisdoms pulled....although getting teeth yanked wasn't as excruciating because I was comfortably numbed by all the medication.
Sure could have used some of that today.

Anonymous said...

I hope they enjoyed their 300-dollar tickets and glad you stayed home Out Of Left Field.

I loathe Buffalo as a hockey fan but their city needs the NFL to play home games at home much like Windsor and Oshawa can't afford more auto assembly closures.

it's nice in theory to have Toronto in each of the four major sports but I'll take the losing Argos anyday over the slower paced NFL game.

Sports fans shouldn't allow themselves to get lost in all the hype of their league having more money and higher paid players ... I want to see rushing and big sacks, not endless punts and all these 2-minute set-ups that barely move the ball past the line of scrimmage - it's like when I was a kid with my Coleco electric football game, turn it on and all the players spin around in a circle - US College Football is far more exciting than the NFL; but if they require something slower paced to watch I don't condone their special needs.

NFL Canada? No Thank You.

Tim said...

@ anonymous

Couldn't agree more. While I follow the NFL, I refuse to drink the Kool Aid. It is the best marketed of the big 4, but in reality likely 75% of the games played on "any given Sunday" are garbage. It is a league predicated on gambling, hence its popularity. The NFL can keep their dog and pony show south of the border. My dad paid to go see that garbage yesterday. I'm going to call him today and ensure the ticket prices don't cut into my Christmas gift!

Tim in London