There is concern within the NFL league office about the possibility of the Chargers playing host to an AFC Championship Game within tiny Dignity Health Sports Park (formerly the StubHub Center), according to league sources, and contingency plans are expected to be discussed again this weekend should the Chargers and Colts advance, which would set up the Chargers as title game hosts.
There were meetings and conversations within the league about this scenario late in the regular season, when the Chargers were pushing the Chiefs for the AFC West title and possibly home-field advantage in the playoffs. It died down when the Chargers entered the playoffs as the fifth seed, but there have been conversations this week about the prospects for moving the championship game, should the Colts and Chargers both win, which would leave L.A. as the AFC’s best seed remaining and therefore the title-game host. If the Chargers win but the Colts lose to the top-seeded Chiefs, the title game would be in Kansas City.
Sources said that last month there were internal discussions about possibly playing Sunday night and Monday night championship games in the event both the Rams and Chargers hosted conference-title games, with both games being played at the Rams’ Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. It was not considered feasible for the L.A. Coliseum to host both championship games on the same Sunday – in double-header fashion – I’m told, but moving the AFC Championship Game out of 30,000-seat Dignity Health Sports Park is something many within the NFL offices would support. And, given the way the playoffs have sorted out to this point, it remains possible that L.A. teams host both championship games.
League sources suggested that, should the Colts beat the Chiefs on Saturday afternoon, discussions about moving the AFC title game to the Coliseum and contingencies about playing a Sunday/Monday schedule would likely begin in earnest, with nothing made official until Sunday’s results were in.
If the Rams, the No. 2 seed in the NFC, do not advance to the championship game, and the Chargers do, playing the AFC title game at the Coliseum would be a possibility, sources said. The NFL could alter its plans to get vital equipment and resources out of the L.A. Coliseum on the fly this weekend, sources said, in the event the Rams or Chargers are poised to host another game.
“Playing a game of that magnitude in a stadium that small is a big issue to a lot of people around here,” one league source said of Dignity Health Sports Park. “There isn’t any plan in place to move it now that I am aware of, but there was a lot of talk about that when it looked like the Chargers might win the division. I would expect there to be conversations about that through the weekend as things happen.”
However, a Chargers source, while acknowledging that there has been conversation at the league-level about the locale of a championship game, said: “There is a firm contractual agreement in place between AEG and the Chargers, and neither one of those parties wants to break the contract or endanger their business alliance in L.A. That contract requires the game to be played in Carson (California, home of Dignity Health Sports Park).”
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