Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Sports news roundup from Mexico: US celebrity duo buys stake in Club Necaxa, MLB returns to Mexico City

Which Major League Baseball teams played in Mexico City over the weekend? Which star Mexican soccer player is possibly moving from Europe to the U.S.? Get caught up on the weekend in sports news in Mexico with this roundup.

Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney buy stake in Mexican soccer team

U.S.-based actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney have received a lot of publicity for buying a low-level pro soccer team in Wales and trying to get it promoted to the third tier of English soccer.

Their endeavor even generated a popular TV docu-series on FX titled “Welcome to Wrexham,” winner of multiple Emmy Awards.

Welcome To Wrexham | Season 3 Trailer

Now that the two celebrities have bought a stake in Mexico’s Club Necaxa, will a series titled “Welcome to Aguascalientes” be in the offing?

Probably not.

Club Necaxa already plays in Mexico’s top professional league, Liga MX, and even though it could be considered an underdog — three titles in 78 years, none since 1998 — it doesn’t offer the same drama of a well-loved, small-town team looking to move up from the fourth division.

Wrexham has a population of 135,000 and a soccer stadium that has been hosting matches for 147 years — whereas the city of Aguascalientes has a population of 950,000 and Victoria Stadium, considered the first modern stadium in Mexico when it opened in 2003.

News of the Reynolds’ and McElhenney’s Necaxa purchase first came from Variety, which noted that while the size of the stake is “unclear,” it is a “minority interest” of “significant” size.

Reynolds, 47, has starred in a range of films, including the highly successful action-comedy “Deadpool” in 2016, and he was named People’s Sexiest Man Alive in 2010. McElhenney, also 47, is known for his work on the TV comedy “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”

Eva Longoria with CF Necaxa logo
Actress Eva Longoria is another celebrity co-owner and investor in CF Necaxa. (Club Necaxa/X)

Club Necaxa, which was founded in 1923, also counts actress Eva Longoria among its investor-owners. NX Football USA — a group that includes Longoria, Major League Baseball star Justin Verlander, model Kate Upton and NFL player Odell Beckham Jr.  — has owned about 50% of the team since 2021.

Reynolds and McElhenney and the other owners will work to enhance Club Necaxa’s standing and grow its profile in a league dominated by popular teams such as Club América and Cruz Azul in Mexico City, Chivas de Guadalajara, Monterrey and Tigres UANL of Monterrey.

Liga MX plays two seasons each calendar year, and one just came to a conclusion. Necaxa (pronounced ne-cox-suh) finished in a tie for eighth with 7 wins, 6 ties and 4 losses — good enough to qualify for the play-in round of the playoffs. Necaxa will play Querétaro on Thursday.  

Coming into this season, Necaxa’s record in the 2020s of 36 wins, 29 ties and 74 losses included two last-place finishes and one second-to-last.

According to Transfermarkt.com, the value of the franchise is US $34.3 million, although Sportico.com places its value “in the mid- to low-$200 million range.”

Major League Baseball back in CDMX

The Houston Astros swept two games from the Colorado Rockies at Alfredo Harp Helú Stadium in the MLB World Tour: Mexico City Series.

The Astros won 12-4 on Saturday in front of a crowd of 19,934 and 8-2 on Sunday with 19,841 fans on hand.

MLB World Tour Mexico City Series broadcast
The Houston Astros faced off against the Colorado Rockies at the Alfredo Harp Helú stadium in Mexico City over the weekend. (Screen capture)

The 5-year-old ballpark, home to the Mexico City Diablos Rojos of the Mexican League (LMB), has a capacity of 20,062.

The Astros entered the series on a five-game losing streak and were off to their worst start since 1969 with a 7-19 record. But playing at a high altitude helped them hit six home runs in the series, including two each by Kyle Tucker and Cuban native Yordan Álvarez.

The struggling Rockies, who hit only one home run, have now dropped 11 of their last 14 games.

The stadium is situated 2,239 meters (7,349 feet) above sea level, more than 2,000 feet higher than MLB’s highest-elevation stadium, Coors Field in Denver. Batted balls sail further in a higher atmosphere with less air resistance.

When Major League Baseball made its debut in Mexico City last year, the San Diego Padres pounded the San Francisco Giants 16-11 in a game that featured 11 home runs. 

In late March, the New York Yankees played the Diablos Rojos in a pair of exhibition games at Harp Helú Stadium. Mexico City won 4-3 and 2-0, although the Yankees had left most of their star players back in Florida for spring training.

President López Obrador, an ardent baseball fan, posted photos with management of both the Houston Astros and Colorado Rockies to his X account. (López Obrador/X)

The Astros seemed to benefit from the support of the crowd in Mexico City. Even though the Rockies were designated to be the home team, many fans were wearing Astros colors.

“We did not feel like the visiting team,” said Astros manager Joe Espada. “There was a tremendous passion and energy in the stadium, and it really felt like home.”

Baseball in Querétaro and San Diego FC courts Hirving Lozano

Baseball fans in Querétaro are aflutter: their city has an expansion team in the LMB (Liga Mexicana de Béisbol) this season. One problem: The new stadium wasn’t ready for their home opener on April 16. So the Querétaro Conspiradores played their first “home series” in Puebla, then finally opened at their real home last Friday, drawing a crowd of 4,100 in a 14-5 win over the Yucatán Leones.

Finsus Stadium, which isn’t yet a finished product, is located in a countryside setting in the municipality of Huimilpan — a fan-unfriendly 40-minute drive from downtown Querétaro. When finished, it will have a capacity of 6,500 for baseball.

The Athletic is reporting that the MLS expansion team San Diego FC is in “advanced talks” to sign Mexican national team star Hirving “Chucky” Lozano away from his team in Europe, PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands. San Diego, which will enter MLS in 2025 and would love a marquee player like the 28-year-old Lozano, would pay a transfer fee of around US $12 million to the Dutch club, The Athletic added.

With reports from Variety, Sportico, El Financiero and AP 

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