The NFL has determined a neutral site for a potential AFC championship game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills — if the two franchises were to make it that far.
NFL PR representative Brian McCarthy was the first to share the press release on Twitter, revealing that Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta would host a potential AFCCG between the two teams on Sunday, January 29, at 6:30 p.m. EST.
As stated by ESPN’s Adam Teicher, the home of the Falcons is approximately “800 miles from KC [and] 900 miles from Buffalo” — which is close to an even distance for both fanbases.
Reactions From Chiefs Kingdom
First off, Charles Goldman of Chiefs Wire did inform season-ticket holders that “the league says that Bills & Chiefs season ticket holders who committed to purchasing AFC title game tickets would get first priority at Mecedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.”
Arrowhead Pride’s Pete Sweeney gave his take on the situation as well, voicing: “Still feeling like all the national talk/takes/announcements regarding where the Bills and Chiefs are going to play their AFC title game is the easiest bulletin board material of all time for Cinci through Miami.”
The Cincinnati Bengals are certainly at the top of that list, as the No. 3 seed and the reigning AFC champs. If Sweeney’s right, this whole debacle could serve as additional motivation for Cincy.
If it is Chiefs-Bills, however, it’s not a bad outcome for Kansas City. After the news, Fox 4 KC’s Harold Kuntz relayed: “Last time Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs played in Atlanta and Mercedes Benz Stadium .. 2nd Year QB threw this pass in the 2 year old stadium in a preseason game.”
Goldman retweeted that link, adding: “Patrick Mahomes in a dome. Bombs away.”
Details on Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta
The dual-sport arena funded by Falcons owner Arthur Blank is also used for the MLS games of Atlanta United — also owned by Blank. It’s a beautiful state-of-the-art design with an opening at the center of the dome-shaped roof.
“We used the Pantheon in Rome with its circular opening and the sun streaming in [as inspiration],” architect Bill Johnson told Sports Illustrated in 2014. “We nicknamed this building the Pantheon and when we won the job, the name stuck and the idea developed.”
The roof is very unique in itself. SI writer Tim Newcomb described it in the same article. “Appearing similar to a series of pie-shaped wedges, the roof material is actually a clear, lightweight polymer material that can adjust its transparency to control light based on the time of day,” he detailed.
There is also a “video halo” that goes around the inner circle of the roof, allowing all spectators to see replays and visuals from the action. It’s a magnificently built location, no doubt, but it will never be home for Chiefs Kingdom.
Hopefully, the Bills take an early exit and Arrowhead is in play for the conference final. If not, the Falcons’ digs typically seats 71,000 fans.
First NFL Big Event Since Super Bowl 53
Of course, this isn’t the first big game that Mercedes-Benz Stadium has hosted. The newer structure housed Super Bowl 53 between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams.
Mahomes and the Chiefs were one narrow defeat away from playing in Atlanta that year, but unfortunately lost to the Patriots 37-31 in overtime in the conference finals.
Fans will remember that a costly offside penalty on Dee Ford negated an interception by Charvarius Ward that would have clinched the game in regulation. After that, Tom Brady and the Pats tied it up with a late touchdown score, and then won the contest with another TD in OT.
Mahomes did not touch the football in overtime.