I’m in a Madden League with some friends (shout out to the Elite Quarantine league) and I actually moved my franchise (Arizona Cardinals) to Mexico City. The Diablos, led by Joe Burrow, currently reside in The Fire Pit and are looking like a surefire playoff team.
While I was getting demolished in a game, I began talking to my opponent about what it might be like to have a NFL team south of the border.
There has been rumors about it before, as there is simply too much money to be made.
There are a lot of logistical challenges to making this happen, but suffice to say, eventually, the NFL is going to put a franchise in Mexico City.
What might the NFL need to overcome to see a team playing in the City of Palaces?
Denver is known as the mile high city. The altitude has been a factor in sports there for as long as they have had teams.
Coors field, home of MLB’s Colorado Rockies, is known for inflated homerun numbers and ERAs.
Empower Field at Mile High, home to the Denver Broncos, sits at a mile in altitude like the rest of Denver. The longest kicks in NFL history have taken place here in the thin air.
Denver is 2000 feet lower than Mexico City. That means the issues created by the thin air, and the advantages, will be even greater in Mexico. The advantages in Mexico will be 40% greater than even Denver.
Mexico City is also kind of a hike from most NFL cities.
The closest NFL city would be Houston, with Dallas right nearby. However, playing Mexico City if you’re coming from New England would be minimum 7 hours and from Seattle would be minimum 5.5 hours.
Are these flight times doable? Sure!
But it adds another layer of complexity to scheduling. It would need to become similar to a west or east coast trip for teams on either coastline. It would be something like the TexMex Road-trip.
The NFL players may also not love the idea of playing in Mexico City.
Players have expressed concerns about safety before, and there would almost certainly need to be special conditioning needed to play there. Teams would almost need a week just to physically prepare for the altitude.
Despite some of these reasonable challenges, it still makes sense for the NFL to have a team in Mexico City.
With 8.8 million inhabitants, Mexico City’s population is larger than NYC and dwarfs any other NFL city. The market’s size is huge. There is also already a taste for the NFL there. The Raiders have a great following there, for example.
Scoring another huge market would also mean more money in TV rights deals. If the league is successful enough, maybe even more teams pop up in Mexico.
If players get compensation and schedulers can figure out how to give time for altitude prep etc, it will happen.
Money talks, and when billions of dollars start to be involved, things find a way to get done.
-Brent Buckley (@bigbucksbuckley on the twitter)