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Mexico City hosts NFL’s Raiders, Patriots to sold out crowd

Mexico City, Mexico — Mexico city hosted another NFL football game Sunday to a sold out crowd at Estadio Azteca in the capital city as the New England Patriots took on the Oakland Raiders for their first game in Mexico.

”It’s loud,” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said. “There’s a hum, there’s a buzz throughout the game for offense or defense. Especially when we’re on defense, it gets really loud. They want us to win. You can tell by looking in the stands how many Raider fans there were there that it’s definitely a home game for us.”

”It’s always an advantage to know where you’re playing and what to expect,” Oakland Raiders fullback Jamize Olawale said. ”I just remember the atmosphere and excitement was electric out there. It was awesome to see. It was like a true home game.”

American football has a large following in Mexico, booming over the last decade. According to Neilsen, Hispanic NFL audiences have increased 28 percent over the last five years. The NFL says they estimate about 22 million fans in Mexico, with Mexico City having the seventh largest fan base of any city in North America. The other six cities, they say, are in the US.

”It’s always cool to change up the atmosphere,” tight end Rob Gronkoswki said. ”It always gets you excited heading into a new atmosphere not knowing what to expect exactly, so it’s going to be something different. It’s going to be something fun.”

Regular season American football returned to Mexico last year after being absent since 2005. The first game played at Azteca Stadium in November of 2016 sold out in less than a day. The game, which was between the Oakland Raiders and Houston Texans, drew a sold out crowd of 76,000 seats.

“The passion of the Mexican fans is consistent with the burgeoning U.S. Hispanic fan base,” the NFL said in a statement.

“Hispanic sports fans value going to the game more than non-Hispanic viewers,” said Elizabeth Lindsey, a marketing expert at Wasserman. “They still value the live experience.”

According to a proprietary Wasserman study, 23 percent percent of Hispanic sports fans say they attend games “all the time” or “often.” That’s compared with 17 percent of non-Hispanic fans. Among Hispanic Millennial sports fans, 31 percent of those with children will attend live events, something that is key for the NFL as these fans are “building future generations of fans.”

“When you’re the number one sport in the U.S., there’s only so much you can grow within the country, so you move out,” said Lindsey.

The NFL airs nine games live every week in Mexico.