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Texans hope their game in Mexico can foster relationships

HOUSTON -- In October of last year, Houston Texans team president Jamey Rootes went on a trade mission to Mexico City with the Greater Houston Partnership, a business organization of which he is the chairman.

He met with Mexico's secretary of energy -- a big football fan, it turned out. He visited with the mayor of Mexico City. They broached the subject of bringing the NFL back to Mexico.

"(They) implored us to bring a regular-season game in Mexico City," Rootes said. "From there we have made it clear to the league that if there was a game in Mexico City we wanted to be part of it."

On Friday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed that the Texans will play a regular-season game against the Oakland Raiders in Mexico City on Monday, Nov. 21.

Rootes said it is possible that the Texans' trip to Mexico City is not just a one-time thing. Whether future Texans games are played in Mexico or not, he wants this to expand the Texans' reach in Mexico. Texans owner Bob McNair, Rootes said, has been interested in the team playing south of the border since the league began its international series back in 2007.

"Until there’s an opportunity you really can’t press too hard," Rootes said.

After his October trip, the answer from the NFL seemed optimistic. And while the Texans' interest goes back further than October, they saw an opportunity then that added a time element. Houston hopes to draw fans from Mexico to participate in their week of festivities for Super Bowl LI next year. Rootes said this could set the stage a few months early.

"Nearly 700,000 Houstonians are Mexican born, which is 40 percent of the foreign-born population," Rootes said. "(There are) 1.7 million Houstonians who are of Mexican descent. We have 500 non-stop flights each week between Houston and Mexico, Houston’s No. 1 trade partner. All those things suggest not only going to Mexico will build our friendships with fans in Mexico but will allow us to have closer relationship with fans in Houston and across the region.

"The second part of it is it’s a wonderful opportunity for the city to deepen its relationship both with Mexico City and the entire country. The trade connection, the tourism opportunities. It’s bigger than just football, but it’s very good for our football team."

Article by ESPN Staff Writer Tania Ganguli

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