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NFL to return to Mexico City in 2020, 2021

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (Credit: Getty Images)

The National Football League will return to play regular-season games at Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca in 2020 and 2021, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced at his pre-Super Bowl news conference in Miami.

The date and time for this year’s game will be announced with the release of the league’s schedule in the spring.

Last November, the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers played in Mexico City in front on 76,252 fans. It was a far more successful experience than the 2018 debacle, in which the showdown between the Chiefs and the Los Angeles Rams was moved to the United States at short notice due to poor field conditions.

Goodell addressed a number of other key issues in his traditional pre-Super Bowl state-of-the-league press conference, which came before Sunday’s game between the Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers.

Goodell said that Miami will almost definitely be the future site of the Super Bowl going forward, something which city leaders are already working on.

“There’s a reason why Miami is hosting its 11th Super Bowl,” more than any other Super Bowl venue in history, Goodell said. “They know how to put on big events. They know how to do this. We believe we’ll be back here many times going into the future.”

On Sunday, the NFL will honor both Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and Hall of Fame defensive end Chris Doleman, who both died this week, Goodell added.

On the prospect of a future Super Bowl in Las Vegas following the arrival of the Rams, Goodell said: “I think we should get through the Draft before we focus on the Super Bowl. We’ll focus on that (Super Bowl site in 2025) before the end of the calendar year.”

This year’s Draft will be staged in part in the fountains in front of the Bellagio, representing yet another escalation of the ever-popular spring event.

With regard to much-discussed expansion, the league could potentially place a team in Toronto going forward, Goodell said. But he added that “a stadium up to NFL standards is going to be an important element,” in part signaling that Rogers Centre, home of Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays, does not meet that standard.

Goodell said the NFL and players’ union were having “incredibly productive dialogue” on reaching a new collective bargaining agreement. But he refused to discuss whether the league would insist on a 17th regular-season game, and did not commit to a time-frame for getting a new deal done.

On the lack of black head coaches in the league and the failure of the Rooney Rule, Goodell said: “Clearly we are not where we want to be on this level. It’s clear we need to change. We have already begun discussing those changes, what steps we can take next to determine better outcomes.”

Here, too, Goodell did not have specifics. But it was still a rare concession from the commissioner that the stated goals of the Rooney Rule have not been met, and that significant adjustment is required.

Goodell, 60, also indicated that he may seek to continue his role past 2023, the end of his current contract. “Your work is never done. I want to put this league in the best possible position. I haven’t thought about retirement. It’s not on my agenda. I’m 100 per cent committed to this job,” he said.

Meanwhile, former Lakers star Shaquille O’Neal, who is grieving the death of Bryant, confirmed he will still participate in a planned Super Bowl party in Miami this week. He also announced that he will donate all proceeds from the event to the families of the victims of Sunday’s California helicopter crash that claimed nine lives.

“Kobe would want us to push through and celebrate life,” O’Neal tweeted. “So let’s do just that. I’ll be dedicating and donating all my proceeds from Friday night’s Fun House to all the families who lost loved ones and to the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Foundation. Together we will celebrate all those who lost their lives in Sunday’s tragedy.”