The Cincinnati Bengals’ victory over the Buffalo Bills in Sunday’s AFC Divisional Round officially meant that the NFL didn’t have to run the Conference Championship Game at a neutral site.
Had the Bills won, they would have met the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game at the neutral site of Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia (home of the Atlanta Falcons). With the Bengals winning, they’ll travel to Arrowhead to visit the Chiefs for the Lamar Hunt Trophy.
In his latest “Monday Morning Quarterback” column, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer reported that the NFL could actually end up playing the conference title games at neutral sites down the road. The main reason? Money, of course.
Breer noted three key ways the league would make money through this. 1. By placing naming rights on the game (like they do with NCAA Football bowl games) 2. Cities bidding on neutral site games which would create “a chance to continue to capitalize on having a Super Bowl–quality stadium” and 3. Giving the league control over ticket and suite sales:
“I can also say that owners have, indeed, talked about this over the years, so it’s not a new idea. It’s just one that hasn’t yet gotten to the point where it’s ready to be voted on.
But the pieces are in place to make this happen. The NFL already controls the conference title games (teams run the wild-card and divisional rounds). So where Park Avenue has generally allowed for the teams to be true to their suite holders and season-ticket holders, it could pretty easily pull back on that if the owners see fit. Additionally, going through the Bills-Chiefs scenario the past few weeks gave them a sort of dry run to find potential issues.
Are there some? Sure. There are plenty.
But there’s also money to be made. And when that’s the case—with the owners involved—we all know how that movie usually ends.”
Needless to say, many fans on social media aren’t exactly thrilled with this idea.