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Saturday, March 2, 2024

NHL Sees Big Opportunity In Mexico For Future Games

  • League looks to southern neighbor of U.S. at teams' behest
  • NHL would be last of the four major American pro leagues to play in Mexico
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Add another international target — and a decidedly unconventional one —  for the NHL in its fast-growing global ambitions.

The league is now looking to stage games in Mexico, a significant expansion of its activities outside the U.S. and Canada. 

Since restarting its Global Series tour in 2017, the league has played in Australia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Sweden, and Switzerland. Compared to most of those countries, Mexico would be a less fertile hockey market, but the NHL still sees big opportunities in America’s southern neighbor.

“Mexico City is on a short list because our teams are very interested in going there and exploring that market,” said Steve Mayer, NHL chief content officer, on ESPN’s “The Drop” podcast. “There are teams that would really love to go to Mexico.”

Not surprisingly, one of those is the Arizona Coyotes, who have marketed to local Latino fans for many years and are now in the midst of significant business transition. Other logical candidates would include the Los Angeles Kings and Dallas Stars, each of which play in states bordering Mexico and have previously held hockey camps in Mexico City. 

The league’s potential plans for Mexico could notably include both indoor and outdoor settings.

“Mexico City, because of the climate, might be a little more difficult to go with an outdoor game,” Mayer said. “But those things are challenges for us that we love to take on.”

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The NHL would be the last of the four major U.S.-based pro leagues to stage games in Mexico, as the NFL, MLB, and NBA have all been there multiple times. 

As each of these leagues looks to expand their business, overseas games have taken on even more importance to overall operations. Most recently, the NFL expressed interest in playing in Spain and Brazil.

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