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The NFL should build its own stadium in Mexico City

The NFL already has its own stadium in London, and it would make sense to build another in Mexico City

An annual NFL game in London has become a tradition thanks to a partnership between the NFL and Tottenham Hotspur. 

The deal came into fruition as Tottenham was looking to build a new stadium–the NFL swooped in, and then came the first multi-purpose stadium with NFL standards outside of the United States. It was also agreed that the NFL would hold two games annually at the stadium in London. To accommodate NFL standards, the stadium has two retractable fields, one specifically used for soccer and one for football. The agreement was signed in 2019 and runs for ten years.

The NFL has also held games at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, but the Azteca is not a multi-purpose stadium like Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. It is consistently used for Liga MX matches and is the home stadium of the Mexican national soccer team, and as a result it is not always in a good condition to host an NFL game. A 2018 Monday Night football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams, for example, had to be moved to Los Angeles due to the Azteca’s poor playing conditions. This disrupted the league’s travel schedule, and if they had their way, the NFL would make sure this never happens again by exercising more control of their international games south of the border.

Now they might have that opportunity in Mexico City, much like they had in London.

Cruz Azul a partner?

Liga MX side Cruz Azul, one of the most popular teams in Mexico, currently play their matches at the Azteca, sharing the stadium with their rival América. Cruz Azul used to play at the Estadio Azul for 22 seasons (and will play there once again with their rivals América for two seasons starting in 2023 to allow for refurbishments to take place on the Estadio Azteca prior to the World Cup in 2026) but the old stadium which opened in 1946 is set to be demolished once ground breaks on the new one. 

The proposed Nuevo Estadio Azul is expected to have a capacity of 50,000 people, but there are still some legal hurdles Cruz Azul needs to jump through to break ground on the stadium. The NFL can help Cruz Azul finance their legal difficulties and negotiate with the local permit-granters to get the project rolling. 

A potential partnership makes sense for both sides. The NFL will hold another game in Mexico City this season between the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals and has expressed interest in hosting an annual matchup in Mexico City. Cruz Azul would also benefit from the NFL’s investment and credibility, potentially giving them a leg up over their more storied rivals. 

If the NFL is going to hold games in Mexico City, it would likely want a stadium built to its standards like it did at Tottenham. This way they can control the fan environment and avoid incidents like moving a game last-minute in 2018. Of course, there are issues the NFL would face in Mexico that they didn’t face in London. 

Mexico City’s issues are negligible

Playing in Mexico City’s high elevation is a challenging task. The Azteca sits at 7,280 feet above sea level, while the most elevated NFL stadium is Sports Authority Field in Denver, standing at 5,280 feet. The high elevation can cause breathing problems amongst players that are not used to these conditions, and the issue may only get worse at higher altitudes. 

The likelihood that this would impede the deal, however, seems pretty slim. The NFL can partner with Cruz Azul and perhaps build a dome to make it NFL adaptable, or avoid teams that roster players with health issues caused by high altitudes. Whatever the reason, it’s highly doubtful that altitude would keep the NFL from building a stadium in the largest North American city. 

The Tottenham deal set the precedent that the NFL can essentially build a stadium to their own specifications outside of the United States. The NFL continues to pour in so much content for their international fans in Mexico; picking up the phone and speaking with Cruz Azul seems like a logical next step.