Colts coming to T.O.

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:47 PM ET

One of the greatest quarterbacks in the NFL will be making a summer visit to the Rogers Centre, but don’t expect a dazzling, extended effort from Peyton Manning.

The NFL announced Wednesday that Manning’s AFC champion Indianapolis Colts will be the Buffalo Bills’ pre-season guests at the Rogers Centre as Year 3 of the Bills in Toronto series kicks off.

The game is scheduled for Aug. 19 at 7:30 p.m. and if there is a surprise, it is that it will be played one night prior to a game between the CFL Toronto Argo­nauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats. But given that Rogers owns the building and is bankrolling the series, it can schedule whatever it chooses for the dome.

Likely recognizing that the Bills in Toronto initiative hasn’t been as easy a sell as originally hoped, it appears the NFL tossed a bone to Rogers Communications, which paid $78 million for the eight-game package (five regular-season and three pre-season games over five years.)

While the Colts and Manning are obviously a huge draw, first-team offences generally don’t see much more than a quarter of play early in the pre-season. The Colts open up their schedule four days earlier with a home date.

“We are excited to be able to play in Toronto,” Indianapolis Colts owner and CEO Jim Irsay said in a statement. “We know Canadians are avid football fans and it promises to be a great experience for our players and coaches.”

The series will also feature a 2010 regular-season game, the date and opponent to be announced when the entire NFL schedule is released later in April. Buffalo will have just one pre-season game at Ralph Wilson Stadium, a date against the Cincinnati Bengals on the weekend of Aug. 26-29.

For the first year of the Bills in Toronto series, the Bills played Pittsburgh in the pre-season and Miami in the regular season. In the 2009 campaign, there was just one game, a regular-season date with the New York Jets.

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca


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