Mexico City (AP) – Mexico hopes to top last year’s success with the NFL and is trying to extend its three-year deal to host league games.
In 2016, Oakland and Houston played the first regular-season game in Mexico since 2005. This year, the Raiders will return to Azteca stadium to play Super Bowl champion New England on Nov. 19.
Last year’s game generated $45 million for the Mexico City’s economy, according to a league study.
“We need to keep working hard to be as successful as last year in order to have a chance to continue with this project and that the game is here to stay,” Arturo Olive, the NFL Mexico office director, said.
The 2016 game drew a crowd of 76,473, including 9,500 international visitors, mainly from the U.S. and 21,500 visitors who traveled from elsewhere in Mexico. About 205,000 people attended the NFL Fan Fest in the Chapultepec park during the weekend and more than 55,000 people took part in other community events in the city during game week.
“We are giving everything, Olive said. “We set the bar high for last year’s game and we were successful, but we’re trying to do even better this year.”
Olive says he has talked with “some teams” about holding training camps in Mexico.
“But we have not been able yet to find a way to make it comfortable for them to leave the places where they usually do it”, he said. “In the meantime we are happy that the league trusted us with three games and we hope to keep this going for the years to come.”
For all of the success of last year’s game there will still problems. During the game, a green laser bothered the eye of then Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler. Some fans threw paper planes on the field and there were homophobic chants during kickoffs, similar to the ones heard at soccer games in Mexico.
Olive said all three matters will be addressed for this game.