For decades, the primary home of Mexico’s national fútbol selection has been Mexico City’s massive Estadio Azteca. Located in the southern municipio of el Ajusco, the Estadio Azteca is known to fans of the LigaMX as the home field of the near-universally loathed Club América, but its 95,000 fan capacity and 7,380 ft elevation over sea level has also given Mexico’s players a leg up over CONCACAF rivals duking it out for a slot in any number of World Cups.
At least, so the thinking went. But recent intimations from Decio de María, head of Mexico’s soccer federation FEMEXFUT, suggest that El Tri may be looking to move its home base ahead of the final round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers. In a recent statement, de María admitted that the selection’s altitude advantage may not actually be so advantageous these days, especially with so many players coming from the European leagues.
“The issue of where to play always comes down to where one feels most comfortable,” he said. “The altitude used to be an advantage for us and now it comes with a cost, given that half the team is coming from sea level.” Indeed, after a humiliating tie with Honduras at the Azteca to close out the qualifying round last week, it seems Mexico’s players aren’t reaping many benefits from the stadium these days.
Other options currently on the table include Chiapas’ Estadio Victor Manuel Reyna, which sits at a more comfortable 1,700 ft elevation, or Monterrey’s Estadio BBVA Bancomer which stands just a touch lower at 1,600 ft. Both are modern stadiums that have host important LigaMX teams, but with a capacity of 23,500 and 53,000 spectators, respectively, they still lack the grandiosity of Mexico City’s iconic monument to the beautiful game.