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.