The NHL has Mexico City on a short list of locations for future international games.
Steve Mayer, chief content officer for the NHL, told ESPN’s “The Drop” podcast this week that “Mexico City is on a short list because our teams are very interested in going there and exploring that market.”
The NHL restarted its Global Series tours in 2017, playing preseason and regular-season games in traditional hockey markets such as Sweden and Finland but also venturing into more untested markets. Last month, the Arizona Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings played two preseason games in Melbourne, Australia, which marked the first time the NHL held an event on that continent.
“Our international department and our events department get so many inquiries from all over the world, and we’ve heard from so many people that have done major events in big cities, and they love the fact that hockey can be viable in their countries,” Mayer said.
NHL teams have made inquiries about playing games in markets such as Mexico City as well.
“There are teams that would really love to go to Mexico,” Mayer said.
The Coyotes in particular have made a push, as a team that has marketed to Latino fans locally for years.
“I keep telling [the NHL], ‘Guys, I don’t think you understand. If you think there’s a rabid fan base in Australia, any American sport event in Mexico is a massive deal for the country,” said Xavier A. Gutierrez, the Coyotes’ team president.
Teams such as the Dallas Stars and the Kings have held hockey camps in Mexico City. One of the NHL’s biggest stars, Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs, is of Mexican heritage and has supported the idea of playing games in that nation.
“It’d be awesome to literally play a hockey game in Mexico and just see what happens,” he said in 2021.
As with any NHL games played internationally, venue logistics are a primary concern. The games in Australia, for example, were staged inside Rod Laver Arena, which is primarily used for tennis matches.
There has been speculation that the league might go large with a game held inside Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, which seats 105,000 fans. But Mayer said the league is also looking at indoor game options.
“Mexico City, because of climate, might be a little more difficult to go with an outdoor game. But those things are challenges for us that we love to take on,” he said.
The NBA has played games in Mexico City over 30 times since 1992. In November, the Atlanta Hawks and the Orlando Magic are playing a regular-season game there at the Arena CDMX, which seats over 20,000 fans.