The NFL American football league has confirmed it will return to Mexico City for the second consecutive season with the Oakland Raiders set to host the New England Patriots at Estadio Azteca next year.
The Raiders will play in Mexico for the second consecutive season after earning a 27-20 win over the Houston Texans on November 21 before a sell-out crowd of 76,473 in the first-ever Monday Night Football game played outside the US. The event marked the league’s first game in Mexico since 2005.
The date and timing of the 2017 game will be determined in conjunction with the release of the NFL schedule this spring. The game in Mexico is the fifth international game confirmed for 2017, adding to the four previously-announced games in London.
In December it was announced that the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Rams and Miami Dolphins would each give up a home game in the US in order to play matches in the 2017 International Series in London – the first time the UK has received four regular-season games.
The largest-ever attendance for an NFL game remains the 112,376 recorded for a pre-season contest between the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Oilers in Mexico City in 1994.
“We have a tremendous fan base in Mexico,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. “Their passion for football is inspiring, and we look forward to another memorable game in Mexico City between two great teams next season.”
Goodell made the announcement at his pre-Super Bowl press conference in Houston yesterday (Wednesday). The gathering saw the commissioner field questions about the implications of President Donald Trump’s temporary travel ban on citizens from seven mainly Muslim countries. However, he avoided taking a stance on the matter, instead stating that Sunday’s showpiece game between the Patriots and Atlanta Falcons should serve as a unifying event.
“We’re aware of the conversations that are going on and the division,” Goodell said. “As commissioner of the NFL I’m singularly focused on the Super Bowl right now. As I’ve said before, we have a unique position to have an event on Sunday that will bring the world together.”
Goodell was also questioned about the Raiders’ proposed move to Las Vegas, which has been called into question this week. The Raiders this month filed paperwork with the NFL to relocate to Nevada.
The relocation of a franchise requires the support of at least 24 of the NFL’s 32 clubs in a vote that is expected to occur in March.
However, Sheldon Adelson, chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, this week withdrew financial support for a proposed new stadium for the Raiders in Las Vegas, while Goldman Sachs is also said to be evaluating its backing of the project.
Goodell said: “The Raiders submitted an application. It’s one that we’re considering carefully, but there is a great deal of work to be done and there are several elements of that. Financing of the stadium is just one. Obviously, the stadium project itself, the depth of the market, all of those are things that we’ve studied over the last several months, but that will increase in intensity over the next month or so as we move forward in that process.”
Goodell also confirmed that the league is continuing to evaluate the prospect of forming a new development competition. He said: “We have a debate that goes on this on several fronts with football people. Some of the coaches would prefer to go with an expanded practice squad roster and have them in the facilities and have them exposed to their system. Those are legitimate points of view and something that we consider very carefully. But, the developmental league is something that we’re actively considering.”