During his yearly Super Bowl week press conference, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the Oakland Raiders will host the New England Patriots at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City for a regular-season game during this upcoming 2017 season. The game in Mexico City is the fifth game abroad during the upcoming season, along with four others in London. Last season, the Raiders hosted the Houston Texans for the first-ever Monday Night Football game in Mexico City.
Last season’s game in Mexico City was an overwhelming success for the NFL. The league sold out the enormous soccer stadium (76,473 attendees) while also pushing its international initiative. Though this was not the first NFL game at Estadio Azteca, the perception is that this game was a stepping stone for the league’s evolution in Mexico and will become a pattern for future seasons. Furthermore, it is evident that the league may now host regular season games in Mexico on a yearly basis, like it does in London. However, given that Mexico and the United States are neighboring countries with a rich cultural history between them, the movement is picking up much more steam than the NFL’s London campaign.
For example, for least season’s Mexico City game, the league advertised the event for months and launched numerous side projects and initiatives with local artists and community organizations in anticipation of the game. The media also covered all aspects of the game ranging from the actual event to the underlining stories and cultural phenomena that surround the NFL’s growth in Mexico. In one instance, the league posted a gallery to its web site as well as its Facebook page featuring conceptual helmet designs for each team done by local Mexican artists. This gallery received a positive response from fans and artists alike, while bridging the gap between sports, art and culture.
Fans should expect the NFL’s 2017 Mexico City to be even more of a spectacle, given the success and progress made from the 2016 event. Unquestionably, the league has already begun its plan to promote the event on social media publicly while privately working with sponsors, performers, community leaders and others to begin organizing all aspects of the upcoming game.
People always say that sports bring people together. Though the United States’ relationship with Mexico is crumbling (from a government standpoint, see Trump vs. Nieto), the goal for the NFL and Mexico City is to bring passionate Mexican and American fans together to cheer on two of the proudest teams in the league.