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Potential Bills-Chiefs neutral site AFC finale drawing 'extraordinary' ticket demand, NFL says

 UPI News logo: MainLogo UPI News 1/20/2023 Alex Butler

Jan. 20 (UPI) -- A potential AFC Championship meeting between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs, which would be played in Atlanta, is drawing "extraordinary demand" from ticket buyers, the NFL said Friday.

The NFL announced Jan. 12 that the Chiefs and Bills will meet at the neutral site if both teams advance to the conference finale.

Tickets for the potential Mercedes-Benz Stadium meeting went on sale Wednesday to season ticket members for both teams. Other fans were given passcodes to participate in another presale Friday morning. The public can buy tickets Monday.

"More than 50,000 tickets were purchased by the clubs' season ticket members in the first 24 hours of the announcement," the NFL said Friday. "The ticketing plan enables Bills fans to be seated on their side of the field and Chiefs on the other.

"Both the Bills and Chiefs will continue to work with their season ticket members to provide priority access, subject to availability."
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The top-seeded Chiefs will host the No. 4 Jacksonville Jaguars at 4:30 p.m. EST Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. The No. 2 Bills will host the No. 3 Cincinnati Bengals at 3 p.m. Sunday at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y.

Should the Jaguars and/or Bengals win, the AFC title game will be held at the higher seed's home stadium.

The NFL opted to plan for the neutral-site AFC title game because of the Bengals-Bills game cancelation from Week 17. That Jan. 2 meeting was stopped in the first quarter due to Bills safety Damar Hamlin's on-field cardiac arrest.

The cancelation resulted in the Bills and Bengals only completing 16 games this season, while all other teams played 17.

The Bills were in a position to catch the Chiefs for the No. 1 seed at the time, which would have equated to a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the playoffs.

The decision to hold the Bills-Chiefs game at a neutral site, but not change the venue for the Bills-Bengals game has been met with some criticism from fans.

The Bengals, if they had won in Week 17, also could have overtaken the Bills for the No. 2 seed and would have hosted this weekend's divisional-round matchup.

"These are missed opportunities for us," Bengals coach Zac Taylor said earlier this month, when asked about the NFL decision. "We were in control and now we're not. There are positives for many teams and negatives for us."
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Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium is located about 800 miles from the Chiefs' Arrowhead Stadium and 890 miles from the Bills' Highmark Stadium.

NFL owners voted on the plan for the game to be held at a neutral site. Fans who bought tickets for the potential game in Atlanta will be refunded if the Chiefs and Bills don't win this weekend.

"It's a situation that we never have encountered before," Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes told reporters Jan. 9, when asked about the neutral-site game. "But at the of the day, I was so happy that Damar was doing better and that's the most important stuff."

The Chiefs-Jaguars matchup will launch divisional-round weekend. The Philadelphia Eagles, the top seed in the NFC, will host the No. 6 New York Giants at 8:15 p.m. Saturday in Philadelphia.

The Bengals-Bills game will lead Sunday's slate. The No. 2 San Francisco 49ers will then host the No. 5 Dallas Cowboys in the second NFC divisional matchup.

The NFC Championship game will be at 3:05 p.m. Jan. 30. The AFC title game will follow at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 30.  

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