This was going to be another NFL slam dunk.
After successful games in London over the past 10 years, they were going to put one on in Mexico City. And as luck would have it, between two 9-1 teams on a Monday Night.
It would have been a chance to open another market and worldwide, sports betting would have been up.
But Estado Azteca in Mexico City would not cooperate.
Because of field conditions, the game between the Chiefs and Rams was moved to Las Angeles. Apparently, a number of soccer matches, and a Shakira concert made the turf unsafe.
“We have worked extensively with our partners at Estadio Azteca for months in preparation for this game,” said NFL Executive Vice President of International Mark Waller. “Until very recently, we had no major concerns. But, the combination of a difficult rainy season and a heavy multi-event calendar of events at the stadium, have resulted in significant damage to the field that presents unnecessary risks to player safety and makes it unsuitable to host an NFL game. As a result, we have determined that moving the game is the right decision, and one that we needed to announce now in order to allow our teams and fans to make alternate arrangements.”
So obviously this is a black eye for the league, who is desperately trying to put the game in international markets. And because Mexico City is in a US time zone, this would have been something to build upon.
But besides eating money with ticket refunds and also having an empty stadium in LA on Monday, since tickets haven’t been sold there, the NFL will survive this.
And they need to look at having more games in foreign markets. Next year they have another scheduled for Mexico City and they need to work hard to have that stadium in good working order. They also want to have one in Berlin and even China.
But first things first. It’s easy to have a game in London, since the stadiums have been kept up because of the Premier League, but if you are going to put a game in a place like Mexico, you have to own it too, meaning the league will have to make sure the turf is in playable order, even if the league needs to pay for it themselves.
There really was no excuse for this in the future. You can’t just rent out the stadium and pray, the league must have a policy in place for the field to not be used for a certain period of time, even if it means buying out the stadium for that period.
Otherwise other games will suffer the same fate and this NFL experiment will fall apart in the long run.