Stadium Experiences: Estadio Azteca, Mexico City’s Hallowed Ground

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It’s history is legendary. It’s size is remarkable. It’s intimidating nature makes it one of the most difficult places to play in the entire world. There is simply nothing like it.

We are talking about Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium and its unparalleled history.

The Azteca is the only venue to ever host two World Cup finals when it crowned Pele’s Brazil in 1970 and Maradona’s Argentina in 1986.

It was the location of the finals of the 1968 Olympics, 1983 World Youth Championships, 1999 Confederations Cup and the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup.

Outside of football, it also boasts an impressive list of notable events. In 1999 it hosted a Papal Mass. The summer of 2005 saw it as the host venue for the first ever NFL regular season game outside the United States, played between the San Francisco 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals. Paul McCartney, U2, Elton John, the Three Tenors and Michael Jackson have all performed at Azteca in front of sellout crowds.

Most football fans dream of seeing games at Manchester United’s Old Trafford or Barcelona’s Nou Camp; but attending a game at Azteca must be on serious fan’s bucket list.

Built in 1961, it is the former home of Necaxa, Atlante, Universidad Nacional, Atletico Espanol and Cruz Azul. As of now it is the home of Club America and the Mexican National team. In fact, the national team has only lost eight times in their history at Azteca.

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Outside the stadium there are monuments that enshrine some of the most notable events in the venue’s history. First there is plaque for the goal of the century that was scored by Diego Maradona. It was an iconic goal against England at the 1986 World Cup where he dribbled through the entire defense to give Argentina a 1-0 win. Later in that game, Maradona also scored perhaps the most infamous goal in the history of the sport in the “Hand of God.”

There is also a monument for the Game of the Century between Germany and Italy at the 1970 World Cup, where the Italians would win 4-3 in extra time at Azteca.

Indeed, whenever you walk into Azteca you will be taken back by its history and reputations. If that does not overwhelm you, the sheer size of it will. It’s capacity is listed at around 105,000 but actual crowds can be much larger.

When riding through the Santa Ursula neighborhood, you arrive at Azteca and are immediately aware that you’ve come upon a place that is special.

It’s not just the history that makes the place great; the stadium also holds up well for the modern game. Every seat offers a nice view of the field and it is spread out. The roof over the stands (which was implemented for the 1986 World Cup) makes the experience more comfortable.

Whether it be a Club America or Mexican National Team match, the experience will be memorable and electric. It is truly one of the best football venues that the world has to offer.

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