The NFL announced on Tuesday announced that the upcoming Monday Night Football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams will no longer be taking place in Mexico City. The statement shared that the game would be moved to Los Angeles over concerns of an unsafe playing field.
According to Fox News, the pitch at Estadio Azteca “does not meet NFL standards for playability and consistency and will not meet those standards by next Monday.”
Mark Waller, the NFL’s executive vice president in charge of overseeing the league’s international growth, pointed the finger of blame at both the weather and the sheer number of events that are being hosted at the stadium in the past few months. He said that “the combination of a difficult rainy season and a heavy multi-event calendar of events at the stadium [that] have resulted in significant damage to the field that presents unnecessary risks to player safety and makes it unsuitable to host an NFL game.”
In the past 10 days, the pitch has hosted two Mexican league soccer games and a pop concert. Photos posted of the field over the weekend showed damage to the pitch, particularly on the side on which the concert was set up.
Unreal. Here’s the field in Mexico pic.twitter.com/DFPaXKfB2r
— Scott Zolak (@scottzolak) November 13, 2018
In the lead-up to the game, players were threatening to refuse to play should the NFL insist on hosting the game at Estadio Azteca. According to the NFL, the decision to move the game to Los Angeles was made “in consultation” with the National Football League Players Association. On Tuesday afternoon, an inspection of the field was conducted by the league with the help of “local and independent outside experts.”
The field at Estadio Azteca was changed from natural grass to a hybrid back in May this year, but the field has had problems for several months. Cruz Azul, the Liga MX soccer club that shares the stadium with Club America, had a tournament game on the pitch over the weekend and struggled to cope with the condition of the field for 90 minutes.
Workers on Tuesday were seen re-sodding the pitch before the announcement came. Mexico City has hosted regular season games for the past two seasons.
Instead, the Kansas City Chiefs vs. Los Angeles Rams game will move to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The game has been touted as a “potential Super Bowl preview.” The two teams carry 9-1 records into the Monday Night Football showcase game.