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Mexico closing in on deal for NFL regular season games, official states

Mexico is in advanced talks over a deal to host an annual regular season game from the National Football League from 2017 or 2018, according to NFL Mexico director Arturo Olivé.

Mexico has repeatedly been linked as one of the most realistic contenders for the American football league’s continued overseas expansion and Olivé told Spanish newspaper Diario AS that terms are close to being agreed on a five-year deal.

Olivé said: “We’re taking steps in the right direction so that eventually, this platform (of sponsors) which we have reconstructed will enable us to talk directly to the NFL in New York about the possibility of staging games in Mexico.”

AS said that the annual cost of staging NFL games in Mexico has been set at $18m (€16.3m), a sum that the country can now cover through sponsorship deals. Olivé said that in 2008, when he took control of NFL Mexico, the organisation had just three sponsors, two of which were nearing the end of their contract. That number has now risen to 20 commercial partners.

The Arizona Cardinals hosted San Francisco 49ers in Mexico City in 2005, drawing a record crowd of 103,467 for a regular-season game. Media reports have suggested that Monterrey or Guadalajara, rather than the Mexican capital, are being targeted for the return of the NFL.

Olivé added that it was improbable that Mexico City’s Azteca stadium or Olímpico Universitario de la UNAM would be used to stage NFL games. However, he stated the NFL has already approved Mexico to hold games, adding: “It will be for five games, not three as originally proposed.”

Speaking in June, Mark Waller, executive vice-president for international at the NFL, said the league had been contacted by a number of German cities over staging games in the country, adding that plans were progressing over fixtures in Mexico and Brazil.

The NFL already stages a number of regular-season games outside its native US market through its International Series. Wembley Stadium in London, England has hosted a number of matches in recent years and will stage three regular-season games for the second consecutive year in 2015.

The NFL last month agreed a 10-year deal with English Premier League football club Tottenham Hotspur to play a minimum of two games per season at its new stadium. London-based Tottenham is set to move to its new 61,000-seat stadium in 2018. The facility will feature a retractable grass field with an artificial surface underneath that would be used for NFL games.

The NFL has two seasons remaining on its current deal with Wembley, which runs until 2016 and the league is optimistic of a further extension to its tenure at the national stadium.