The NFL in Mexico – an example of how sport can generate economic benefits.

Back to the NFL after the trauma of the Superbowl…

As an Atlanta Falcons fan, I resolved to put the NFL out of my mind for a while after The Superbowl. However, I have broken my vow to comment on the interesting work EY has been doing looking at the impact of the NFL’s recent game in Mexico. Once again sport demonstrates its potential to generate significant economic benefits.

On November 21st 2016, the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City hosted its second regular season NFL fixture, (the first being held over a decade ago in 2005, with the Oakland Raiders facing the Houston Texans). The Raiders defeated the Texans 27-20 in front of a crowd of 76,473 fans with millions more watching around the world.

…and on to Mexico…

The game provided an opportunity for the NFL to actively engage with a rapidly expanding fan base within Mexico, while bringing wide-ranging economic benefits both to Mexico City itself and to the country. The Game attracted around 9,500 international visitors to Mexico City, mainly from the United States, as well as 21,500 visitors who travelled from elsewhere across Mexico. In total, these visitors spent MXN 880 million ($43 million), with MXN 659 million ($32 million) spent in Mexico City, MXN 38 million ($2 million) spent across the rest of Mexico and MXN 183 million ($8.9 million) spent on flights.[1]  Alongside the visitor spending, a further MXN 201 million ($9.8 million) was spent on game delivery, including MXN 55 million ($2.7 million) invested to upgrade the Estadio Azteca and MXN 146 million ($7.1 million) in operating costs.


…to make an impact…

Unsurprisingly, the visitor spending, stadium investment and associated operating costs created a sizeable contribution to the local and national economy.

In total, the impact of the game on the economy of Mexico City is estimated at MXN 923 million ($44.8 million), when indirect (boost to local supply chains) and induced (incremental spending resulting from additional employment) effects are included. This activity is estimated to have supported around 2,840 jobs and generated tax revenues of  MXN 67 million ($3.3 million) for the National Government.


…in a range of areas…

The game itself acted as a platform for a significant boost to the tourism industry in Mexico, with many fans taking the opportunity to extend their trips and explore the country; international visitors typically spent 5.5 days in Mexico as a whole, with 21% staying for seven days or more. This allowed visitors the time to visit areas outside of Mexico City itself, with the average international visitor spending around a fifth of their trip elsewhere in Mexico.

Beyond the immediate economic contribution made by the NFL’s presence in Mexico, the game itself is likely to leave a lasting legacy through the engagement with new and existing fans and visitors that it encouraged. The feedback from visitors to Mexico was overwhelmingly positive with 72% of international visitors surveyed stating that they were now more likely to return to Mexico, and 90% suggesting they would recommend a visit to family and friends.


…and not just in the stadium…

Fan engagement around the game was also strong, with 205,000 people attending the Chapultepec fan park in the City, 45,000 attending activities delivered on Reforma Avenue and over 10,000 people taking part in community focused events during the week of the game. The NFL also hosted a charity golf day alongside 22 NFL legends which raised $150,000 for Mexican and US charities.[2]

Alongside the engagement with fans around the game (i.e. ticket holders, visitors, or those experiencing NFL activities in the City) the City also gained valuable exposure to a much broader audience through the media. Live broadcast of the game in the United States on ESPN and ESPN Deportes reached 33 million people with an average audience of 12 million. Additionally, from the announcement of the game in February through game day, there were almost 20,000 mentions of the game on digital, social and traditional media in the United States with an estimated PR value of nearly US$250 million.[3]

…a win-win.

Taking a game to Mexico allowed the NFL to drive new and positive engagement with a broad audience, promoting the NFL as a spectacle while showcasing the attractions that Mexico City, and Mexico more broadly, can offer to an international market. This is a win-win and serves to demonstrate again how sport can generate economic activity.

[1] Throughout this piece, all figures reported based on the Game day (21/11/2016) exchange rate: US$1 = MXN 20.6061

[2] The NFL Player Care Foundation and the Lorena Ochoa Foundation

[3] Repucom and Prime Research

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