The Mexican federation and the NFL's Dallas Cowboys announced a partnership Wednesday that will see El Tri utilize North Texas as its training base in the lead-up to the 2022 World Cup in addition to playing a friendly match at AT&T Stadium each year leading up to 2022.
The first friendly that is part of the deal will take place June 9 ahead of the Gold Cup, with the opponent to be announced at a later date.
Previously, Mexico’s deal with Soccer United Marketing saw the national team play at least five friendly matches in various cities around the U.S. While many of those matches took place in North Texas, there now will be one a year at the home of the Cowboys. The partnership will continue with at least four matches taking place in other U.S. cities, but one game a year is locked into the Dallas area.
El Tri drew an announced attendance of 84,878 for a friendly against Ecuador in before the 2014 World Cup, 82,559 for a game against Argentina in 2015 and 79,128 earlier this year for a game against Croatia.
Mexico also has played a number of Gold Cup clashes in the venue, including taking part in the 2009 doubleheader that was the first sporting event to take place in the venue.
The agreement was announced at an event featuring Jerry Jones Jr. the Chief Marketing Officer of the Dallas Cowboys, Gilberto Hernandez, Secretary General of the FMF, Camilo Durana, Senior Vice President, properties and events for SUM, Jimmy Smith, FC Dallas Chief Operating Officer, and Monica Paul, Executive Director of the Dallas Sports Commission.
While there are Mexico fans all over the country, with large population groups in cities like Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston, officials said the partnership with Dallas sports teams and the success of past events put Dallas over the top for the first agreement of this sort by the Mexico national team.
"We’ve done some analysis and Dallas is one of the major cities where we can get fans to engage with the national team. All the games we’ve had here before have been really successful and the Dallas Sports Commission, the Dallas Cowboys, FC Dallas, they’ve all helped make this happen," Hernandez said. "Since we’ve had such a great amount of fans here that can travel from all over Texas, it makes a lot of sense for the Mexican national team to engage in Dallas. Looking forward to the next four and then eight years toward the World Cup, which will be here, as you know, in 2026."
The long-term vision of Dallas playing a major role in the 2026 World Cup was a large part of the involvement of the Dallas Sports Commission and FC Dallas, which also may invite Mexico's national team to train at the venues it runs, Toyota Stadium or MoneyGram Park, as part of the partnership.
"We’re not hiding it. We want Dallas and North Texas to be the focal point of the World Cup in 2026, and as many touchpoints as we can have - whether it’s the International Broadcast Center, whether it’s training facilities, those things will help bring it here," Smith said. "You can see the players saying this is a great place to play soccer, and along those lines it’s not just the stadium but the facilities we have in place."