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‘An upper-class picnic’: the Mexican elite’s curious love affair with NFL

November 17, 2016
Mexico is set to host three regular-season games over the next three years.

Mexico is set to host three regular-season NFL games over the next three years.

There will be few working-class fans inside Mexico City’s monstrous Estadio Azteca when the Oakland Raiders face the Houston Texans on Monday night. Mexicans on a minimum-wage salary would have to work for over nine days to afford the cheapest tickets, while the most expensively priced seats equate to 98 days of labour.

Renovated to meet the NFL’s needs, Mexico’s most famous stadium has had its capacity permanently reduced from 104,000 to 87,000 to make way for more lucrative VIP suites, new locker rooms and a larger press box. Tickets sold out minutes after going on sale, illustrating the level of excitement the NFL inspires in Mexico – but also the purchasing power of those drawn to the sport.

While soccer remains Mexico’s most popular sport and the game of working people, American football has made serious inroads in recent years, particularly among the urban-dwelling upper and middle classes. It has strong college roots in Mexico and this, plus the cost of attending games, has given it an air of exclusivity that appeals to those who aspire to a first-world gringo lifestyle. While many Mexican soccer fans make do with buying counterfeit jerseys from street markets and watching games in local bars or cantinas, American football is geared towards those who buy merchandise in Walmart and watch games in American restaurant chains like Chili’s, the NFL’s official partner in Mexico.

The Mexican market’s potential has not gone unnoticed by the NFL, and Monday’s game – the first regular-season fixture held here in 11 years – is one of three tentatively planned over the next three seasons…

Click here to read this feature in full at The Guardian

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