NFL Names Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta as Neutral Site for AFC Championship

This morning, the NFL announced that in the event of a Bills-Chiefs AFC Championship game, Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium would serve as the alternate venue for the conference championship game. The need for the alternate site would only arise if the Bills and Chiefs were to meet in the AFC title game on January 29.

Roger Goodell thanked Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank and praised the environment that the stadium would provide the Bills and Chiefs.

“We are heartened by the continued improvement and progress of Damar Hamlin in his recovery, and Damar and his family remain top of mind for the entire NFL community,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “We are also grateful to Arthur Blank and the Atlanta Falcons for agreeing to host the AFC Championship Game in Atlanta should the Bills and Chiefs advance. We thank both of those clubs for their assistance in the planning process. We know, if necessary, Mercedes-Benz Stadium will provide a world class atmosphere for the competing teams, our fans and partners.”

The NFL’s decision to tab Atlanta as the alternate venue comes just days after reports indicated that the decision was coming this week. Those reports sparked debate amongst fans on social media about who should host the game.

Luis made a point for the game to be played at Soldier Field, and he wasn’t alone in Bears fandom in wanting a marquee matchup like that to take place in our backyard.

I would have hated it if the game was held at Soldier Field. I know that Soldier Field is fond in the hearts of many fellow Bears fans, but I can’t stand it. I rarely ever make the trek to watch a game live because of my disdain for it. That’s it. That’s the only reason that I wouldn’t like it.

Honestly, Luis’ point about both the Bills and Chiefs playing in open-air stadiums was a really good one. Of course, it would be more “authentic” to see the game played in that type of environment, but that wasn’t likely ever in the cards.

However, there was never a shot that the NFL wouldn’t have one of their crown jewels of architecture host an event of that magnitude. Won’t it be nice to have the NFL consider Chicago for these types of events in the future? You know, when they have a shiny new dome in Arlington Heights with over 300 acres of shopping, eatery, and entertainment adjacent to the stadium?

written by

Patrick grew up in Chicago's Bridgeport and Garfield Ridge neighborhoods before moving to the Western Suburbs of Chicago before eventually relocating to the Las Vegas area with his family in 2023. He started with Bleacher Nation in 2021 and has spent time as a Staff Writer and on the Chicago Blackhawks beat. He is currently a writer and editor at Bleacher Nation covering the Chicago Bears and the NFL at large and the author of the Bleacher Nation Newsletter. Patrick is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA).

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