The National Football League confirmed Friday that it's actively considering the possibility of playing regular-season games in Mexico. There are conflicting reports about the state of negotiations and when the series could begin, however.
Ivis Aburto of AS reports plans are already in place for the country to hold five games, one each season starting in 2017 or 2018. NFL Mexico director Arturo Olive stated an increased number of sponsors can help cover the projected $15 million cost.
NFL spokesman Mike Signora released a statement concerning the report and wasn't ready to make any type of firm commitment, per Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports:
We are pleased with the growth in fan demand and the increased partner support we have enjoyed in recent years. With this in mind, we are actively assessing the opportunity to play games in Mexico. We have visited several stadiums in recent months, and are analyzing what needs to be done to bring games to Mexico. It is premature to comment specifically as to when this will happen, let alone how many, if any, games might be played.
Daniel Kaplan of the Sports Business Journal noted the league previously voiced concerns about the ability of Mexico's current venues to handle NFL games.
Mexico hosted the first regular-season game outside of the United States in 2005. The Arizona Cardinals scored a 31-14 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in front of more than 100,000 fans at the Estadio Azteca, which is best known as a soccer stadium used by the Mexican national team.
While the country has also hosted exhibition games dating back to the 1970s, the league's focus in recent years has turned toward London for the regular season. Wembley Stadium has held 11 games since 2007.
It's all part of the NFL's effort to create more of an international appeal. Moving back into Mexico for games makes sense on paper given the close proximity, but making sure the conditions are up to par must remain a top priority.