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Volume 22 No. 3
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El Tri trying to establish a U.S. home base at Jerry World

A new four-year agreement will give the Mexican National Team an annual presence in Dallas, including one game per year at AT&T Stadium.
The Mexican National Team has experience playing in the Cowboys’ home stadium, having lost a friendly to Croatia in March.
Photo: Getty Images

The Mexican National Team has called Estadio Azteca in Mexico City home since it opened in 1966. Soccer United Marketing now aims to make AT&T Stadium in Arlington El Tri’s home away from home.

 

SUM signed a four-year deal last week with the Dallas Cowboys, FC Dallas and the Dallas Sports Commission that will ensure the Mexican National Team has a year-round presence in the region, including one game each year at the 100,000-seat stadium. SUM is the U.S. representative for Federación Mexicana de Fútbol (FMF), the governing body for Mexican soccer.

 

“The idea is to create a home base for the national team, much like Azteca has been in Mexico,” said Camilo Durana, SUM senior vice president of properties and events. “We want to help the team lay long-term roots.

 

The national team, often referred to as El Tri because of the tri-colored Mexican flag, is no stranger to playing in the United States. Since 2002, it has played more than 80 friendly matches at American stadiums, in addition to competitions such as the CONCACAF Gold Cup or World Cup qualifiers. That is roughly four times the amount of games it has played in Mexico in the same time. This past year, El Tri played five friendlies in the U.S., each at a different venue, and averaged over 60,000 fans per game. On March 27 the team played before 79,182 fans at AT&T Stadium in a 1-0 loss to Croatia. Durana said SUM research has indicated the Mexican National Team has more than 40 million U.S.-based fans.

 

This relationship represents the first time SUM has signed a multiyear agreement to have games appear in a city annually; in previous years, games have been agreed to on a one-off basis.

 

That will enable the partners to leverage the team’s popularity in the region, especially among its Hispanic and Spanish-speaking population, with plans to run year-round, fan-facing events.

 

Among those, the Dallas Sports Commission will help operate a bilingual childhood reading program and other initiatives geared toward growing the sport. The Cowboys will work with FMF on cross-promotional messaging between its players, integrating them into the team’s annual Hispanic heritage celebration. FC Dallas will stage watch parties for out-of-market El Tri matches and will hold youth clinics.

 

That all builds up to the annual friendly match at AT&T Stadium, the first of which is set for June 9. SUM and its partners are planning a weeklong celebration of soccer and the team ahead of the game that could include open training sessions, press conferences and musical and special guest appearances such as the Men in Blazers podcast. On game day, there will be a more than 120,000-square-foot fan area outside the stadium called the AT&T Futbol Fiesta, which will include sponsor booths, food, music and autograph sessions with former players.

 

“We view this as the next evolution for the property,” Durana said. “It means so much culturally for multiple generations of fans in the U.S., and we think there is a great opportunity to go much deeper.”

 

That may also present new sponsorship opportunities for the team, with its U.S. tour already sponsored by 15 partners including Adidas, Coca-Cola, Delta/Aeromexico, Nissan, The Home Depot and Wells Fargo.

 

El Tri will play five games in the U.S. next year including this one, with the schedule expected to be announced by year’s end. Durana said this deal does not prohibit the team from playing other games in Texas, and that SUM could consider a similar agreement in another part of the country. El Tri friendlies in the U.S. can generate almost $1 million.

 

Durana declined to comment on the financial terms of the deal but said that the new partners for the team “made a commitment that made a lot of sense.”