Issues arise with International NFL Matchup
33 years ago, two teams met in the world series with only 240 miles of Interstate 70 between them. The Kansas City Royals Proceeded to beat the St. Louis Cardinals that year and win the world series. Since then much has changed. Baseball is over now, but for Missouri sports fans there is another chance for this rivalry to be rekindled. With Stan Kroenke deciding to move the Rams from St. Louis to Los Angeles after the 2015 season Missourians may have lost the ability to see an I-70 showdown come to the NFL, but with both the Chiefs and the LA Rams currently at a 9-1 records, the game between these two teams on November 19th was highly anticipated. This game is much more than an old hometown showdown, this game is a showdown between two teams with the best record in the league. With the Kansas City Chiefs only being beaten by the now 7-3 Patriots due to a last second field goal, and the LA Rams only losing to the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, both teams came ready to play and eager to duel it out. In the end the LA Rams managed to squeeze out a 54-51 victory in the final two minutes of the game. And not only was the game thrilling, the logistics for this game were just as incredible.
This game was to be set in Mexico City, in yet another attempt by the NFL to evangelize the glory of football across the globe. One problem with international football games is that there are no permanent football stadiums built anywhere else in the world that could hold an NFL sized crowd. This leads the NFL to use soccer stadiums when it decided to travel, which is perfectly fine under normal circumstances. Both fields are about the same size, and both are equipped to handle a large crowd, but what makes these soccer stadiums different than their American football counterparts is their priorities.
Estadio Azteca, where the game was to be held, is a soccer stadium. Being a soccer stadium, it only makes sense that their top priority is to maximize profits from soccer games, and events like concerts, conventions, and international sports teams utilizing their facilities do not have top priority. Additionally, Estadio Azteca is notorious for its poor field conditions, and after a Shakira concert, a few soccer games and a fair amount of rain the turf is less than pristine, at least it is much worse than all the domestic NFL stadiums. These poor turf conditions, as well as coordinating such a large event in a foreign country proved to be too much complication and uncertainty for such a high-profile game.
With the game being played in Los Angeles it might come as a disappointment for those hoping for neutral territory in this showdown. But with the game being moved to home turf it was good to know that the people cheering for these teams were the ones that are going to the game to see football, not some international tourist show. No matter how complex the planning may have been what it comes down to is that two teams that are deeply rooted in the same backcountry state are making such an international impact.