Bills Notebook: Astronomical ticket costs

The average ticket price for a Bills game in Toronto is more than triple the amount of games at The Ralph...James Hardy looks good in five-day minicamp.

The Buffalo Bills' average ticket price for home games last season was one of the lowest in the NFL – $51 a pop.

That will change this year. Well, if you call Toronto "home."

The Bills' eight-game Toronto Series will average $183 per seat, the Toronto-based group hosting the series announced Wednesday.

The ticket prices range from $55 to $295 for the Bills' three preseason and five regular season games at the 54,000-seat Rogers Centre (formerly the SkyDome) over the next five years. The prices are in Canadian money, which is currently near the U.S. dollar's weight.

The demand for such extreme costs exists, too.

Approximately 180,000 ticket requests were punched in on, as 30,000 tickets per contest will be dispersed in two weeks via lottery to those who registered on the site and a limited number of Bills and CFL Toronto Argonauts season-ticket holders.

"Football fans from across the country have formally expressed their interest in watching live NFL football in Toronto," Phil Lind, vice-chairman, Rogers Communications, said in a statement. "We are overwhelmed by this response, and we are now working hard to ensure that the NFL experience in Toronto will be unforgettable. We are looking forward to having an electric atmosphere with 54,000 passionate fans in Rogers Centre for these games."

The highest priced tickets for the Rogers Centre games are located along the 20-yard line into the end zone. These seats cost $295 in a three-game package and $270 in the eight-game package. Those same seats at Ralph Wilson Stadium? Sixty bucks.

As announced in April, the always highly-anticipated Buffalo-Miami rivalry game will not be played in front of Buffalo's roots in Orchard Park, N.Y. Instead, the Dec. 7 bout will be the inaugural regular season game of the Toronto Series. The first official Bills game in Toronto is set for Aug. 14 when Buffalo "hosts" Pittsburgh.

Hardy draws praise

It was an unusual sight: a rangy, 6-foot-6 wide receiving in a No. 81 Buffalo Bills uniform. Tall, sturdy and making finger tip catches – a speciman Buffalo fans haven't seen in quite awhile.

In Buffalo's five-day minicamp – albeit in shorts – James Hardy looked every bit of the possession receiver Buffalo's diminutive WR corps needs. That 37-inch vertical leap and huge frame was a pleasant sight in itself.

And one Bill who knows all too well what Hardy is capable of is 2006 first-round pick, safety Donte Whitner, who played against Hardy in the Big Ten for Ohio State. Prior to the duo's Buckeyes-Hoosiers game, Hardy had accumulated 478 yards and five touchdowns in three games.

"The only guy we ever based our defensive coverages around was him," said Whitner of Hardy. "We didn't game plan for a lot of receivers, but we did game plan for him. …Playing Indiana we didn't care about the receiver on the other side, even if they put five receivers on the field we didn't care. We played everybody else man-to-man and we kept two guys on him. He's a mismatch."

As for Hardy himself, he's just excited to have a running game that can alleviate the attention.

"The running game here in Buffalo is so much better that it will open things up more than at Indiana where we were mostly a spread offense and they just threw me the ball," Hardy said. "Overall I feel I'll be able to contribute."

During his three years at Indiana, Hardy caught 36 touchdowns. In his final season, the junior early-entry receiver had 79 receptions for 1,125 yards and 16 scores. He'll most likely enter training camp as the No. 2 wideout opposite deep threat Lee Evans with Josh Reed and Roscoe Parrish assuming more natural slot receiver roles.

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