Much to the frustration of some fans of the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs, the league on Tuesday relocated next Monday's potential Super Bowl preview matchup against the Los Angeles Rams from Mexico City to L.A., citing poor field conditions.
The event was supposed to help showcase the sport internationally. But the league announced that the playing surface at Estadio Azteca in Mexico's capital didn’t meet “NFL standards for playability,” so it decided to move the game to the Rams’ home field.
But the decision to relocate didn't sit well with Chiefs fans who had made travel plans for Mexico City and already booked flights and hotel rooms. Hundreds of Chiefs fans had already planned on making the trip and some even bought gear that promoted the game in Mexico City, FOX 4 Kansas City reported.
Darren Smith, one Chiefs fan, told the station fans’ financial commitment to the game seemed an afterthought when the league made its relocation announcement.
“A lot of people talk about the players and their safety and the injuries and stuff like that, but they don't think about the fans who are making that type of financial commitment to attend the games,” Smith said.
“Regardless of where it's being played, this is the biggest game of the year,” he added.
Ricardo Santibaez planned to take the trip as a surprise for his father’s birthday, the Kansas City Star reported. He said he planned to hide a gift bag in his father’s backpack where he would find the surprise tickets.
“More than anything, it was a moment that I looked forward to sharing with my dad,” he told the newspaper. “This is a huge sadness of the cancellation of the game here in Mexico. We don’t have the possibility of leaving the country to see a game of my Chiefs.”
Those who planned on staying in Mexico City, like Dirk Seager, were stuck with a large nonrefundable hotel bill. Seager told the Star that switching his flight would have cost him an additional $350 on top of the $1,400 he paid for the trip. He said he would be watching the game from a bar in Mexico City.
“It’s just really annoying. The NFL, Chiefs and Rams promised us something, and we made the decision to go. We held up our end, and they’re not delivering on their,” he said. “It’s six days before the game. You shouldn’t get ready to go on vacation, ready to go have a fun time and then have to deal with this.”
Brian Stewart, his wife, and another couple were already in Mexico City when the NFL announced it was going to move the game. He told the newspaper he received a text from his son about the news and immediately thought it was just a joke.
"You shouldn’t get ready to go on vacation, ready to go have a fun time and then have to deal with this.."
“I thought he was just jacking with me,” Stewart told the Star. “I understand player safety, but you know what, this has been going on for a month now. I’m frustrated they waited until less than a week before the game. That’s the problem for me. Everyone in the world knows you don’t book travel plans a week in advance.”
On Tuesday, Rams season-ticket holders were able go into their accounts and purchase their current seats through Thursday at 8 p.m. ET, FOX 4 KC reported. On Wednesday, season-ticket holders will have a three-hour pre-sale before the public to purchase as many as four more seats for the game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Chiefs fans and the rest of the public will be able to buy the rest of the tickets beginning Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET on the Rams website.
The Rams organization will also be giving complimentary tickets to first responders and those affected by the wildfires that have plagued California.