Due to poor field conditions at Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca, Monday night’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams will be relocated to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the NFL announced Tuesday.
“The decision is based on the determination – in consultation with the NFLPA and following a meeting and field inspection this afternoon 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 playability and consistency and will not meet those standards by next Monday,” the league said Tuesday in a statement.
The stadium had recently hosted a concert as well as a heavy slate of soccer matches that had caused significant damage to a hybrid surface of both synthetic and natural grass that was installed earlier this year.
“We have worked extensively with our partners at Estadio Azteca for months in preparation for this game,” NFL executive vice president of international Mark Waller said in a 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 said in the statement that details on reimbursement procedures will be forthcoming for all the fans who made travel plans to attend the game.
Every time the NFL plays in international stadiums, the league mandates that the home team keep its stadium available as a contingency. Because the Chiefs-Rams game counts as a Los Angeles home contest in its schedule, it was moved there rather than Kansas City.
This news comes just hours after ESPN reported that several players from both teams were strongly considering sitting out the game because of the field conditions.
The Rams and Chiefs are both 9-1, and concerns about the health and safety of their players could have cast a negative light on the game had the decision been made to keep the game in Estadio Azteca.
"It's not fair to risk our health," a prominent player told ESPN.