The National Football League is returning to Mexico City on November 18, and is expecting a far more successful experience than last year’s debacle in which the showdown between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Rams was moved from the Estadio Azteca to the United States at short notice due to poor field conditions.
The NFL Players Association had expressed concerns that players were going to injured on the stadium’s torn-up, hybrid turf-grass field, which had been damaged by heavy rains, a concert and soccer matches. Instead, the game took place at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers are now playing at the Estadio Azteca in a Monday Night Football clash, confident of a successful event after league and stadium officials took drastic steps to ensure the marquee event this time goes off without a hitch.
The hybrid turf has been swapped out for natural grass, women’s soccer matches have been moved to a different venue, and fewer events in general have been scheduled for the 84,000-seat Estadio Azteca.
“The field is in very good condition,” said Arturo Olivé, director of the NFL’s office in Mexico, and who has made regular visits to the venue since January. “It looks spectacular, and we are very happy with the great work that has been carried out.”
Added Chiefs owner and chief executive Clark Hunt, “Our field rep has been in contact with the league, who’s been in contact with the representatives in Mexico City taking care of the field. It’s a completely different field, and it’s in much better condition than it was last year.”
Monday will mark the fourth regular-season NFL game played at Estadio Azteca and the Chargers’ first-ever visit to Mexico. The NFL has an agreement to play regular-season games in the country through 2021.