clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

When was last Mexico City game? Why does NFL play in Mexico City?

We break down the NFL’s history in Mexico City and why the series exists.

General view of the stadium during the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers during the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers at Estadio Azteca on November 18, 2019 in Mexico City, Mexico. Photo by S. Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals face off on Monday Night Football to close out Week 11. This is a unique one as it will be taking place Estadio Azteca and it marks the fifth NFL regular season game to take place in Mexico.

The NFL has long tried to expand its international footprint, but it has also done so at a modest incremental pace. The London International Series games get the highest profile, but the first international regular season game in NFL history took place in Mexico City in 2005. The Cardinals beat the 49ers 31-14 in front of 103,467 fans, which was a regular season record at the time. Prior to that, the NFL played a preseason American Bowl game between the Oilers and Cowboys in 1994. It was played in front of 112,376 fans, which remains an NFL record.

The league returned to Mexico City in 2016 as part of the International Series. The Raiders beat the Texans 27-20 in that first matchup. A year later, the Raiders lost to the Patriots 33-8. The Chiefs and Rams were scheduled to play in Mexico City in 2018, but field issues at the stadium resulted in the game being moved back to LA.

The Chiefs and Chargers played in Mexico City in 2019, with Kansas City winning 24-17. The location has been on hold the past two years during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the league is back at Estadio Azteca for 49ers-Cardinals on Monday evening.

Estadio Azteca is the home of the Mexican national soccer team and also hosts soccer clubs Club América and Cruz Azul. It holds an official capacity of 87,523 fans and has played host to two World Cup Finals, the 1971 Women’s World Cup, and the 1968 Summer Olympics.