If one NFL Mexico official had his way, a game would be played in the country every year. Just after finishing a deal for a Mexico game in 2016, NFL Mexico Director Arturo Olivé said he has already begun working with the league to secure an annual staging of a regular season game in the country, according to SportsBusiness Daily Global Friday.
"We are focusing on this year's game, but we have spoken about having regularly programmed games," Olivé said to SBD Global. "Maybe once a year. But at the end of the day this first one is the point of focus for us because if it turns out well, which we expect, it will open more opportunities in this stadium [Estadio Azteca in Mexico City] as well as maybe others in Mexico."
The NFL announced ahead of Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco that the league would return Nov. 21 to Mexico to play a regular-season game 11 years after the league first played an international matchup at Estadio Azteca. The Oakland Raiders are scheduled to take on the Houston Texans in the first-ever international Monday Night Football game.
— SBJ/SBD (@sbjsbd) February 12, 2016
"Expanding our International Series of regular-season games to Mexico marks an important step in our continued international growth," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a press conference ahead of the Super Bowl. "We have a tremendous, passionate fan base in Mexico, and we know the atmosphere on game day will be outstanding."
The first game in Mexico City, a clash between the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers Oct. 2, 2005, drew more than 103,000 fans. The NFL has also seen a 17 percent increase in Hispanic viewers since 2012, according to Nielsen.
The league estimates that its fan base is about 22 million in Mexico, and Olivé told SBD Global that the game has grown enough in the country that it is the right time to bring in an annual event. Important for the NFL's bottom line, he has also seen sponsorships in the country grow from the single digits to more than 20. "We needed to have the right condition," he said. "We needed to have the right platform to take advantage of an opportunity like this."
The NFL has already found success with its annual International Series games in London. The fan base overseas has grown, tickets selling out quickly, with the league bringing in tens of millions of dollars in revenue. Now the NFL has turned to Mexico.
"We are part of the International Series games, and we will have the same ability as the London games have now," Olivé said to SBD Global.
— NFL México (@nflmx) February 5, 2016