Buffalo Bills close to extending run of Toronto games

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills' bid to extend their series of playing regular-season games in Toronto could take a big step forward before the end of the month, barring a setback in negotiations.

The Bills regard the series, which began five years ago, as key to their long-term survival by extending their reach north of the border in the small-market team's bid to generate additional revenue.

League spokesman Michael Signora wrote in an email to The Associated Press on Tuesday that the Toronto series will be on the NFL International Committee's agenda for its next meeting. The meeting is scheduled to take place this month, but no date has been set.

In March, NFL owners voted to give the committee authority to make decisions regarding the series.

Though Signora declined to discuss the status of talks between the Bills and Toronto-based Rogers Communications, the two sides have previously expressed optimism that a new deal will be reached to extend the series before it expires after this season.

Rogers Media president Keith Pelley maintained that optimism in a statement the company released on Tuesday.

"Discussions are ongoing with the Buffalo Bills about extending the Bills Toronto series deal," Pelley said. "While I am cautiously optimistic, we have nothing to announce at this time."

Bills CEO Russ Brandon was out of the office and not available for comment.

The series has so far paid off for the Bills. They have experienced a significant boost in season-ticket sales from fans in southern Ontario, who now represent about 15 percent of the team's base.

The Bills will "host" Seattle at Toronto's downtown Rogers Centre this season. They were originally set to play a preseason game in August, but that game has been returned to Orchard Park because of a scheduling conflict.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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