A strong showing in a game last November at Azteca Stadium has the NFL envisioning strong growth potential for future games in Mexico City.
An NFL-sponsored economic study indicates that last season's game between Houston and Oakland provided a $45 million economic benefit to Mexico City's gross domestic product. That figure is nearly double what similar in-season games have produced in London in recent years.
NFL executive vice president for international Mark Waller told USA Today that the strong showing behooves the league to strongly consider future games to be played in Mexico's largest city.
"It would obviously make sense for us to explore the opportunity to commit to longer," Waller told USA Today. "I would like to think that the success of the first game plus the attractiveness of the matchup we've put down there for 2017 would end up with a relationship that extends beyond 2018."
The NFL already has scheduled a Raiders home game to be moved to Mexico City again this year when they will hook up with Super Bowl champion New England on the weekend before Thanksgiving.
Waller also said he's convinced that Mexico City could support more than one game per season, although teams' unwillingness to typically give up home games might make it difficult to schedule.
Despite the recent tensions between the Mexican and U.S. governments have Bets10 caused Waller to say that Mexican authorities have been bullish about more NFL games in their country.
"I think this is seen by all involved as something that goes beyond everyday politics and goes to the heart of what sport is all about," Waller said, "which is bringing fans together, people together, cultures together and celebrating that."
The game attracted a crowd of 76,473 for the first Monday Night Football game in history to be staged outside of the United States. The NFL also reports that 205,000 people attended a related fan fest and 55,000 participated in other community events that preceded the game in Mexico City.
"Quite honestly, we could probably have more visitors in if we directed more tickets back to the (competing) teams," Waller said. "But we're trying to strike the right balance obviously between bringing in U.S. fans and making sure our Mexican fans also get a good opportunity to see the game."
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said last month at the Super Bowl that the NFL "had a great experience last year" at the Mexico City game and hopes that the league not only will play games in Mexico, but also help the league broaden its reach to Hispanic fans in the United States.
Both have stopped short of endorsing the idea of a Mexico City franchise. But as the league considers the possibility of European teams in the future, the idea of expansion into Mexico doesn't seem that far-fetched.
A stronger economy in Mexico would like provide the NFL with more confidence in staking its claim to what could be a fertile market outside the United States.
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