Monday, October 03, 2005

NEW VENUES FOR THE NFL

I'm SAD that the baseball season is over, but on the bright side the baseball post-season starts tomorrow. So there will still be opportunities for me to sit on the porch and listen to these radio broadcasters calling games.

Too bad the Blue Jays aren't in it, again, but that's life. Besides, people in Toronto don't care, their beloved Leafs come back Wednesday and that's all they care about. Unfortunately, you can never get a ticket for Leaf games because they're sold out forever, and worse, you'd have to shell out $35 just to be in the building. At least with the Jays all you needed to hand over was, what, ten bucks for cheap seats? Something like that. If I want to see pro hockey in this town at a reasonable price, I'd need to trudge down to Ricoh Coliseum to watch the Marlies and the AHL, but I heard the prices are higher for that, too. I could go to Buffalo, I heard that Sabres tickets are dirt cheap. But the price of gas is through the roof. And why should I bother giving my money to these greedy millionaires who wiped a whole season out anyway?! Really.

The NFL, of course, now is able to take center stage in a lot of American cities. Yesterday they played a couple of interesting games in new venues. The New Orleans Saints played their emotional first home game of the season, in their new stadium in San Antonio in front of their adoptive home fans and Katrina hurricane survivors. They did a great thing for these Katrina victims. Not only did they get to watch their team play for free, they got to go down on the field to help introduce the team! That was a classy move and I'm sure this will be something positive that these people will never forget. The Saints also won the game over Buffalo.

The Saints will split their home schedule between San Antonio and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The advantage of playing in San Antonio is that it's a dome stadium with artificial turf, and the Saints are built to play in indoor conditions. So on TV it looked like a normal Saints home game in many ways.

The other big game took place yesterday in Mexico City, where 103,000 people took in the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers. NFL commish Paul Tagliabue was commenting about how NFL expansion to Mexico was "inevitable". Right now, no other American sports leagues are set up in Mexico, although a few of the motor racing circuits have some races down in that country. NASCAR put a Busch Series race into Mexico, so there's growing interest in Mexico from these American major sports leagues. But Mexico is a soccer nation, and the NFL knows it. They played their NFL game at Azteca Stadium which only hosted the World Cup of Soccer nearly 20 years ago.

From what I gather, even though soccer is the most popular sport and their Mexican league games are all over TV, the NFL is still very popular in Mexico. Mexico is one of the few places outside of the USA where people actually care about football. They show NFL games on network TV down there, so interest in football is pretty high. We really shouldn't be surprised that the crowd would be big for the NFL in Mexico City. But this was over 100,000 people for two of the crummiest, most decrepit franchises in the whole National Football League. Have the Cardinals ever been good? Ever?! Even by NFL standards the attendance was absolutely amazing. Tagliabue had to be impressed.

The NFL is planning to put some more regular season games in other countries like Canada and England, so they can expand the NFL brand around the world. What I wonder is: will the NFL ever come to Canada?!? With a real team?! If it ever does it will be a big hit, there's no question in my mind about it. But people seem to want to take their time trying to bring a team here, and I heard that people in these US leagues are spooked because of all the stories about how the Montreal Expos were run out of the country; that Canadians will only shell out money for hockey. It would be quite an outrage if Mexico beats us to the NFL.