The NFL is eager to show that its international efforts to spread the renown of the league are succeeding. The Mexico City experiment proved as much, justifying the hype they had been raising around international NFL games (view updated Super Bowl Lines Here).
The Oakland Raiders and the Houston Texans played a match at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. This was the first NFL game to be played in Mexico since 2005. The NFL has seen a surge in popularity for their games in international markets.
And it is most likely because of the 17 successful games the league has seen played in London since 2007 that the NFL saw fit to give Mexico another chance to host an NFL game.
Mark Waller was enthusiastic about the idea of making Mexico City a frequent host for NFL games. If Waller had his way, he would ensure that an NFL game was played in Mexico at least once a year.
He would also ensure that the NFL would begin laying its claim on a lucrative spot on the Mexico City Sporting Calendar. Mexico has always made the most sense for a host for regular NFL games.
The league has seen viewership amongst Hispanic markets spike by 28 percent over the years; and even with recent ratings problems, the Hispanic numbers are still strong enough to warrant the attention Mexico is receiving from the NFL.
Mexico City has the seventh largest NFL fan base in North America. One wonders why the NFL has taken so long to utilize the resources their Southern Neighbor has to offer as a viable host for NFL games.
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The Mexico City match was a success regardless of how you look at it. The Tickets sold out in a paltry fifteen minutes, and there was ostensible enthusiasm for the match in the country.
As would be expected, there were plenty of problems to deal with. Eric Wynalda created a bit of controversy when he disparaged the Azteca Stadium, calling it the worst place to ever host a sporting event.
The former U.S National Soccer player said that the venue’s high altitude was a problem, and so was the pollution; he had nothing good to say about his experience playing in the venue.
The media didn’t make things any easier when they leaked an internal memo from the Houston Texans who discouraged their players from leaving the hotel in Mexico. They were also encouraged to order room service if they wanted to avoid falling ill.
If that wasn’t enough, there was some anxiety over the reception the American Flag would receive following the harsh rhetoric in previous months from President-Elect Donald Trump.
Luckily there was no booing. But the Raiders crowd made headlines with the homophobic slurs they kept shouting at the Texans. Texans players also complained about all the green lasers being beamed at them fans in the stands and which they said affected the game.
Even with all those problems, though, everyone agrees that the Mexico City match was a success. For a league that is struggling at home, the NFL needed to know that they could begin more fervently pursuing international markets.