NFL moves Rams-Chiefs out of Mexico City over poor field conditions
The marquee “Monday Night Football” game between the Rams and Kansas City Chiefs will be played in Los Angeles — not in Mexico City, as originally planned.
Poor field conditions at Estadio Azteca prompted the NFL on Tuesday to pull the plug on the Mexico City game, reverting to the Coliseum because it’s technically a home game for the Rams.
The matchup pits two of the best teams in football, both 9-1. It will take place Monday at 5 p.m. as scheduled and be televised nationally by ESPN.
A concert nine days before the planned kickoff left the playing surface at the Mexico City stadium in serious disrepair. That raised concerns about player safety with the league. Efforts to re-sod the turf were insufficient to convince the NFL to stay.
According to the league, the decision was based on the determination — in consultation with the NFL Players Assn., and following a meeting and field inspection Tuesday by NFL and club field experts as well as local and independent outside experts — that the playing field at Estadio Azteca “does not meet NFL standards for play ability and consistency and will not meet those standards by next Monday.”
“We have worked extensively with our partners at Estadio Azteca for months in preparation for this game,” said NFL Executive Vice President of International Mark Waller in a written statement. “Until very recently, we had no major concerns. But, the combination of a difficult rainy season and a heavy multi-event calendar of events at the stadium, have resulted in significant damage to the field that presents unnecessary risks to player safety and makes it unsuitable to host an NFL game. As a result, we have determined that moving the game is the right decision, and one that we needed to announce now in order to allow our teams and fans to make alternate arrangements.”
The league will announce ticket reimbursement procedures in the coming days.
The Rams are in Colorado Springs, where they planned to train for the altitude they would have encountered in Mexico City.
The Rams will remain in Colorado and practice Thursday, Friday and Saturday before returning to Los Angeles late Saturday, a team spokesman said.
Beginning Wednesday, Rams season-ticket holders can log into their accounts and purchase their regular seats for Chiefs-Rams on Wednesday at 10 a.m. — and can buy up to four more tickets.
Ticket sales to the public open at 1 p.m. Wednesday.
The Rams are working with community partners to provide complimentary Chiefs-Rams tickets to first-responders and people affected by the recent tragedies in Southern California.
A day after learning that that receiver Cooper Kupp had suffered a season-ending knee injury, the Rams recalled Pharoh Cooper from injured reserve. Cooper, a receiver and Pro Bowl kick returner, has been sidelined since suffering an ankle injury in the season opener against the Oakland Raiders. Cooper, a 2016 fourth-round draft pick from South Carolina, will provide depth to a receiving corps that includes Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks, Josh Reynolds, Nick Williams and KhaDarel Hodge. During Cooper’s absence this season, Blake Countess has averaged 24.6 yards per kickoff return, and JoJo Natson 14.4 yards per punt return. NFL rules allow teams to recall two plays from injured reserve. Coach Sean McVay has said the Rams plan to recall cornerback Aqib Talib (ankle) when he is eligible, possibly in time for a Week 13 game at Detroit. Receiver Mike Thomas (groin) also is on injured reserve.
2:30 p.m. PST: This article has been updated with details about ticket sales.
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