Tuesday, July 17, 2012

NFL In Toronto A Success

This week it was announced that tickets to the Buffalo Bills game in Toronto will be significantly reduced (some tickets reduced by half), and several clowns in the Canadian media are heralding this as evidence that the NFL cannot work in Canada. Jumping to this conclusion is incorrect, as average ticket prices for the games in Skydome are still higher than the avg price in the entire NFL, and they continue to sell 95% of available tickets. Before you can say that this experiment has been a catastrophic failure based solely on reductions in ticket prices, you have to point out that the tickets for the Toronto game were originally set at an absurdly high price tag.

They can fit a maximum of 54,000 people in the Sky Dome (which is the smallest capacity in the NFL), but the average ticket price in the first year of this game was $183, nearly double the next most expensive average ticket price (in New England at $88). Despite that obscene price, they still sold 52,000 tickets. The Toronto Argonauts are lucky to draw 20,000 people for a home game, and are only able to charge around $55 for an average ticket. When you factor in the food and alcohol sales, a single NFL game in Toronto generates 5 to 10 times the revenue of a single CFL game, in the same stadium. There's no doubt which league is the bigger draw.

Anyone suggesting that the CFL has somehow defeated the NFL because ticket prices were reduced is nuts (or trying to validate their initial opinion that the NFL would fail in Toronto (I'm looking at you David Pratt)). The NFL gets more than twice as many people willing to pay twice as much money as a CFL game. Yes, the amount they have been able to charge for NFL games in Toronto has been diminishing. The most recent "slashing" of ticket prices brings the average price down to around $100, but that's still more expensive than the average price anywhere else in the NFL (and twice as much as the Argos).

The NFL won by a large margin, it's just not clear if Rogers will make their money back. They paid $78M for 7 games and still had to share the revenues with the Bills. Just because Rogers paid an exorbitant price for those games does not mean that the NFL can't be sustained in Toronto. For a franchise to work full time, they would have to build a bigger stadium (which does not appear any closer to happening). There's no reason that the Bills can't play a few games in Toronto. The games generate substantial revenue, they are just charging Rogers too much to play them. It's not like the city of Buffalo is a cash cow.

David Pratt on CKNW 980 in Vancouver went way over the top and declared the NFL dead in Toronto, a catastrophic failure, with the CFL proving victorious.  It is nice to have Pratt back on the radio, but I have been quickly reminded of my 2 major pet peeves with Big Daddy 1) over-sensationalizing insignificant stories,  2) he's bananas about the CFL, where many Canadians prefer the American game over our boring 9 team intramural league. Relax Pratt. The NFL is not dead in Canada, you just want it to be.

1 comment:

  1. Why don't you move to US you wanna-be Yank Wanker.