Neutral-site AFC Championship would’ve cost KC $13 million in economic impact, experts say

Playoff games have been bringing in big bucks for host cities.
(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)(Orlin Wagner | AP)
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 5:24 AM CST
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - It’s fair to assume that Kansas City would have missed out on more than $13 million dollars in economic impact if the  AFC Championship game didn’t happen at Arrowhead Stadium, according to numbers crunched by local economics experts.

Here are the numbers we got from VisitKC for the last four years the AFC Championship game has been played in Kansas City:

  • 2019: Patriots vs. Chiefs brought in $12.5 million.
  • 2020: Bills vs. Chiefs made $12.7 million.
  • 2021: A COVID year, so money brought in dropped drastically to $2.5 million, with limited seating and limited resources because of the pandemic.
  • 2022: Bengals vs. Chiefs made $13.2 million.
  • 2023 Projection: $13.5 million for Bengals vs. Chiefs

Across the AFC landscape, the Buffalo vs. Kansas City game could have been in Indianapolis for a neutral-site matchup before the NFL decided on Atlanta. The Mercedez-Benz Stadium in Atlanta is home to several neutral-site games and tournaments across sports, including the SEC Championship Game and College Football Playoff, so Atlanta and Mercedes-Benz Stadium make their fair share. But those unique cities like Indianapolis could have brought in a few more million.

Indianapolis declined to host a Chiefs-Bills AFC Championship Game this year due to conflicting schedules for a national volleyball tournament that is still projected to bring in around $10 million.

All of that scrambling over neutral-site logistics was for naught, though, when the Bengals defeated the Bills in Buffalo on Sunday, bringing the AFC title game once against to GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.

The University of Cincinnati reports the region could bring in more than $7 million from their Wild Card game against the Baltimore Ravens. That’s four times more than a typical regular-season game.

We’ve reached out to Visit Buffalo-Niagara and the City of Jacksonville about their revenue projection for the playoff games this year, but we are waiting to hear back. Still, one can imagine it’s a positive margin.