KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — The NFL has chosen a neutral site for the AFC Championship game, if necessary.
Atlanta will host the AFC Championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium if the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills are set to face each other, the league confirmed Thursday. The game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Jan. 29.
All other potential AFC Championship Game matchups would take place at the home stadium of the higher seed, the league said.
Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest during the first quarter of a Jan. 2 game between the Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals resulted in the game being declared a no-contest. But the outcome of the game would have had direct implications for the AFC No. 1 seed.
Had the Bills beaten the Bengals, and beaten the Patriots like they did Sunday, they would have been the No. 1 one seed, holding a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Chiefs. (The Chiefs ended up earning the top seed and Wild Card Weekend after defeating the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 18, to finish 14-3.)
“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,”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stated in a news release.
“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.”
Goodell and the Competition Committee approved a plan to move the AFC Championship to a neutral site if the teams involved could have had the home-field advantage if there was a Bills-Bengals winner.
NFL owners had a special league meeting that approved the resolution.
Before Atlanta was selected, Indianapolis had reportedly turned down a request from the NFL to be an alternate location for the AFC Championship due to prior planned events.
Details surrounding ticket sales will be released later, with Chiefs and Bills season ticket holders getting priority.