Thursday, March 20, 2008
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Steelers will play a preseason game in August in Toronto against Buffalo, the first of eight home games over the next five seasons the Bills will play in the Canadian city.
It will be the first time the Steelers will play in Ontario since they beat the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League in a preseason game, 43-16, Aug. 3, 1960.
It will be their first international game since they played the Indianapolis Colts in Mexico City in 2000.
The game likely will be scheduled for the weekend of Aug. 14-18, when the Toronto Blue Jays, who also play in the Rogers Centre, are on the road.
The Argonauts have a game scheduled at the former SkyDome Aug. 15.
The Bills received permission from the NFL this year to play five regular-season home games and three preseason games in Toronto over the next five seasons.
While some Buffalo fans fear it could mean a move of the franchise to Toronto, owner Ralph Wilson has said these games merely will help showcase the Bills to a wider audience and bring more revenue to one of the NFL's smaller markets.
However, Wilson is 89 and there's speculation that either he or his estate could sell the team to someone and that person could move it to Toronto.
"I think it was done to help regionalize the team on an even broader scale than they have," commissioner Roger Goodell said at his annual news conference two days before the Super Bowl.
"They have regionalized throughout western New York and that's helped the team be more successful from a business standpoint and marketing themselves more effectively. They have a tremendous amount of interest north into Canada and the Hamilton-Toronto area."
The Steelers last played in Canada in 1990, beating the New England Patriots, 30-14, in Montreal, a preseason game that was supposed to be played in Ireland before the financing for it fell through. The Steelers also lost to the New York Giants, 13-12, in a 1969 preseason game in Montreal.
More recently, the Steelers played international preseason games in Barcelona, Spain, in 1993, in Tokyo in '96 and in Dublin, Ireland, in '97.
The Toronto preseason game would be the second of four in 2008 for the Steelers.