Estadio Azteca turf issues plague Chiefs-Chargers a year after NFL debacle

A year after turf issues forced the NFL to cancel a planned appearance by the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams at Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca, field problems haven’t been resolved.

The Chiefs faced off against the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday night, and turf issues were prominent in the 24-17 Kansas City victory.

Large chunks of loose turf were visible across the field on the television broadcast, and loose sod appeared to cause issues with player footing.

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Turf problems show up in gameplay

Chargers kicker Michael Badgley missed a 40-yard field goal in the first quarter and immediately looked to the turf before walking back to replace his divot. The “Monday Night Football” broadcast noted the miss was the shortest of his career.

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In the second quarter, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes looked to wide receiver Byron Pringle on a third-down pass play. Pringle made the catch and immediately planted to change direction.

A year after turf problems forced a game to be moved, Estadio Azteca still doesn't look ready for NFL football. (Kirby Lee/USA Today)
A year after turf problems forced a game to be moved, Estadio Azteca still doesn't look ready for NFL football. (Kirby Lee/USA Today)

Pringle sprayed dirt from his cleats on the cut and immediately lost his footing, falling to the ground short of the first down.

The turf appeared to make a difference on both plays in addition to presenting an injury hazard.

Field required halftime repairs

Workers took to the field to repair divots at halftime.

2018 debacle

The NFL made the decision to move last season’s Rams-Chiefs game to Los Angeles just days before it was scheduled to be played at Estadio Azteca. It was an embarrassment for the NFL and stadium managers over the high-profile event that turned out to be one of the greatest games in NFL history.

It just took place at a different venue because the field wasn’t fit for a football game.

Arturo Olivé, the director of the the NFL’s Mexico City office, told the Associated Press prior to Monday’s game the the field was in good shape and had undergone a turf change since last season’s debacle.

“The field is in very good condition,” Olivé said. “It looks spectacular, and we are very happy with the great work that has been carried out.”

Evidence from the game shows a field far from “spectacular” condition.

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