Neutral-site conference championship chatter continues

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams
Getty Images

If the Bills had beaten the Bengals last Sunday, tonight’s AFC Championship between Buffalo and Kansas City would be happening in Atlanta.

Leading today’s Sports Business Journal “Weekend Rap” grab bag of topics is the fact that talk regarding neutral-site conference championships continues. Three major papers published columns on the subject today, echoing many of the points that have been made in the time since the NFL decided to introduce the neutral-site possibility as a technique for balancing out potential inequities arising from the cancellation of the Week 17 Bengals-Bills game.

As we’ve written on multiple occasions, the league wants to do it. The question is whether at least 24 owners will go along with it.

Although the primary appeal comes from creating a college-style atmosphere with half of the crowd in one team’s colors and half in the other’s, the deciding factor would be money. As in a lot of it. Conference championships sold to cities, in the same way Super Bowls are.

Currently, the NFL just gives the games away to the teams in each conference with the better record. If/when the NFL starts shopping the game to a rotation of cities, the product will generate even more revenue.

It’s an easy way to generate more cash with limited additional expenses. That’s what makes it something for all owners to seriously consider — even those who would lose the edge that comes from hosting a title game in the elements.

The best way to coax cold-weather cities to agree to it would be to put them in the mix for hosting the games. If it was good enough for a Super Bowl nearly a decade ago, it’s good enough for conference championship games — especially since those places already will be hosting the conference championship games, if the local teams earn a spot.

34 responses to “Neutral-site conference championship chatter continues

  1. Once you realize that the NFL is purely a money making business, All these decisions make sense. Nothing else matters.

  2. The NFL knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. The value of its tradition and history is priceless.

  3. Greedy owners will win out… does not matter because the regular guy can’t afford regular season games. My love of football grew because my dad would scrimp to take me to a game. My son who has a great job cannot afford to take his son to a game because the greedy owners always win out!!!!

  4. I like the idea as long as there is some sort of phased approach to when tickets become available for purchase to avoid the corporate crowd. This is what I came up with. What would you change?

    1st: season ticket holders of the participating teams
    2nd: residents within the geographic region of participating teams
    3rd: residents within a certain radius for the hosting city
    4th: everyone else

  5. If the NFL can milk an extra dollar out of every fan who watches a game believe me they will.

  6. The conference championship games are really the best game day in the NFL and it’s time they are played on neutral fields that eliminates extreme weather conditions. The top seeds get the bye and that’s good enough they don’t need to have the home field in the conference championship game.

  7. Looking forward to the weeping and gnashing of teeth when, say, a 14 win 49er team has to play an 11 win Cowboys team in Dallas

  8. Doesn’t much matter. Players will love it if the money share increases. How about the NFL start paying some sort of real money for playoff games? That would at least give players incentive to want to play in the post season.

  9. This is the best weekend of football and having cities like KC and Philadelphia host makes it even more fun! The stadiums are packed and the energy is awesome. The SB doesn’t even feel like real football.

  10. Sorry to break it to you but the NFL is a money making business. Just like every other business. To blame a for-profit business for looking for ways to make more money is just nonsense. I don’t think anyone reading this would turn down an opportunity to make more money for themselves or their business. What about this is wrong?

  11. 8th seed, no more byes and neutral site championship game in the near future.

    Also get ready to see each team’s 17th regular season game being played in London or Germany.

  12. Only reason this insane idea is even still on life support is because Mike is pushing this out for corporate headshed.

  13. Why have just one top-dollar corporate-only game that average fans can’t afford when you can have three? Who cares what the fans or players want?

  14. Terrible idea. Penalizes local fans and communities. Kills a hard earned advantage from the regular season. Could have an 8-9 team playing a 15-2 team in a city where nobody cares and only wealthy fans can attend. Might be time to quit the NFL. Killing a once great game.

  15. Monumentally stupid move by the NFL if they choose to do this. Why would you disincentivize a team from fighting for home field advantage, and why take that away from the home fans?

  16. You’re Stealing the excitement and joy of those team fans,… especially the team with home field. This is a reward for the fans and the NFL wants to make it into their own profit center. Disgusting is saying it mildly.

  17. If the NFL does this it is a giant middle finger to it’s fans but most are such sheep they won’t even realize it!

  18. Where does it stop? Soon the push will be for all playoff games. Why not Sunday Night Football chooses a game every week and it gets played where it will make the most money? This is crazy.

  19. The NFL is doing its best to kill off a great game…and I think they’ll succeed soon enough.

  20. Yep anything to get more money. I remember when they agreed to a contract and as usual the the statement was go for the owners the team and the fans. Can someone point out where it was good for us? Now the people who paid money to see their team lose a home game to Europe and now a championship game to more greed.

  21. Let me break it down like this. How are regular folks going to be able to afford travel, hotel, and tickets? As a season ticket holder I get my playoff tickets for a reasonable price. What about the vendors and working folk who lose out on wages and tips. Only to give that money to some big city like LA, Dallas, or Miami? What about the mom an pop shop outside of the eagles, ravens, or even Detroit? But like I’ve said before it’s a horrible idea so the NFL will institute it immediately…

  22. Tom Brady says:
    January 29, 2023 at 3:14 pm
    Looking forward to the weeping and gnashing of teeth when, say, a 14 win 49er team has to play an 11 win Cowboys team in Dallas

    Jokes on you, Dallas will never be in an NFC championship game, they are a mediocre franchise that produce lukewarm results year in year out

  23. “Currently, the NFL just gives the games away to the teams in each conference with the better record.”

    How Insufferable,

    No, The Team EARNS the right to play at home.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.