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Volume 24 No. 218
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NFL Plans Three More Games In Mexico Between '19-21; Pats-Raiders Seen As Success

The NFL ahead of yesterday's Patriots-Raiders game in Mexico City announced that three more regular-season games "will be played" in the country from '19-21, according to Randal Archibold of the N.Y. TIMES. The NFL is "striving to expand its presence internationally; it has played regular-season games in London" since '07, with "four games there this year." Yesterday's announced crowd of 77,000 "treated this event like a Super Bowl nearly the entire time." Just about "everything on the field drew an emotional, throaty response." Even as the Patriots were "running away with the game, the crowd stuck with it, doing the wave so vigorously the stadium shook." Patriots QB Tom Brady's performance "surely would please" the NFL execs who "brought one of their biggest stars here as the league ramps up its international presence" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/20). In S.F., Emily Green notes there "wasn't an empty seat to be found in the stadium, fans yelled out ear-popping cheers throughout the game ... and people were thrilled that the NFL had returned to Mexico." The NFL's "flirtation with the country is turning into a long-term relationship" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/20). Patriots S Devin McCourty said, "This atmosphere was awesome. To be out here in pregame ... the crowd was crazy. We knew when it came game time they’d be into it." The BOSTON HERALD notes this was the "first time the Patriots played a regular season game in Mexico City, and against a Raiders team that had also hosted a game there last year." But many of the fans "were Patriots rooters in Estadio Azteca" (BOSTON HERALD, 11/20).

ALL ABOUT LOGISTICS: In Boston, Ben Volin noted Mexico is a "devoted market for the NFL, and the league believes the fans there deserve to host a real regular-season game." NFL Exec VP/Int'l Mark Waller said, "There's a secondary goal, which is building more of the connectivity between our Mexican fans and the US/Hispanic fan base." The logistics "aren't a challenge" for NFL events in Mexico because Mexico City is in the Central time zone and close to the U.S. Next on the list appears to be a "return to Canada, where the NFL has hosted six regular-season games, and a game in Germany." Volin wrote to "expect the Chargers to host next year's Mexico game, especially since only 27,000 fans will miss out on a home game" in L.A. Mexico City "could be the new leverage city." Waller: "In my mind, if you were to project that 20 years from now -- I'm just making up a number -- I would like to think that people would sit and go, 'Wow, we could have a team in Mexico City. The fan base is big enough, the stadium is good enough, the infrastructure is good enough, the logistics of it could work well enough, that if our ownership decided that that was something that they wanted to do, we could deliver'" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/19). THE MMQB's Peter King writes the league is "likely to play a minimum of five of its 256 regular-season games" outside the U.S. through '20. That is a "lot of home games for teams to be giving up," and there is "going to be an internal battle across the league in the next couple of years" (SI.com, 11/20).

CLOSE TO HOME: The BOSTON GLOBE's Volin noted Mexico has been "watching the NFL" since the '70s, and today fans "devour the product." The league "estimates that it has about 22 million fans in Mexico, compared with 13 million in Canada, 13 million in the UK, and 10 million-12 million in Germany." Football has "become Mexico’s No. 2 sport behind soccer." The NFL "now has 25 sponsors in Mexico, compared with six" in '08. The Patriots are also "becoming big business in Mexico" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/19). In L.A., Kate Linthicum wrote while soccer is "still the king" in Mexico, American football is "proliferating, with more and more teams at the high school and college levels and NFL jerseys an increasingly visible fashion statement" (L.A. TIMES, 11/18).

STILL PLAYING CATCH UP: In S.F., Bruce Jenkins wrote under the header, "NBA's Globalization Puts Shame To The NFL Brand." Assuming "respectable behavior, every U.S. trip to China ... is a worthwhile endeavor with long-range benefits." The "contrast to the NFL could not be more glaring." Jenkins: "A dying sport cannot be 'grown.'" Football’s demise is "likely many decades from reality, but it’s not gaining popularity and will never expand worldwide" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/19).