The Incomparables ‘incomparable’ new venue


César O. Esparza at Coliseum MENA Image: César O. Esparza & Populous

César O. Esparza is the CEO of Monterrey International Stadium, a multipurpose, 65,000- seat stadium to be home of Mexico First Division Champions, Tigres of UANL, and NFL and MLB games in Monterrey, Mexico. Esparza is also founder of Juego de Pelota, Inc., a New York City- based company which excels in sustainable stadia development. Juego de Pelota is a company that has vast experience in the construction of modern stadiums.

Tigres UANL or Tigres is a Mexican professional football club based in San Nicolás de los Garza, a City in the Monterrey metropolitan area in Nuevo León, Mexico.

The 42,000-capacity Estadio Universitario – nicknamed El Volcán – is a football stadium located on the campus of the Autonomous University of Nuevo León in San Nicolás de los Garza, Nuevo León, Mexico, in the metropolitan area of Monterrey. It serves as the home pitch of Tigres UANL.

In an exclusive with ‘Coliseum’, César O. Esparza, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Juego de Pelota, Inc., Mexico, talks about what ails the stadia industry and wax eloquent on how the Tigres UANL and their women’s team – Tigres UANL (women) – are unbeatable when it comes to pitch performance. He also gives specifics regarding the Tigres’ planned new venue – the Tigres Stadium – which is inching closer to becoming a reality.

‘Sad’ stadia

César O. Esparza started off with a quote – ‘If objects were to have feelings, they will be happy when used and sad when not’. And this holds true for buildings too – “And the saddest building on earth today is the stadium because it is used on very rare occasions. The huge stadia are only used maybe 20 days per year, 80 hours per year. The stadium throbs with life when a match or any other event is held and once the match or event is over, they again lie unused.”

What ails the stadia industry?

Esparza pointed out that the biggest problem with the stadia industry is that planners have constructed the venues in such a manner that they have limited usage – only for matches and events. And once the events are over, the arenas lie unused for a long time – “Nevertheless, the taxpayers continue to bear the burden of maintaining the facilities.”

There needs to be a 360 degree change in the perspective of how we use the stadia – “We have to come up with mixed-use facilities and the stadia should be abuzz with activities 365 days a year. Governments are not the best developers of a stadium and football clubs are also not the best developers.”

Pertinent points

  • Sustainable stadia should be constructed;
  • The entire community should be involved while planning to construct a venue; and
  • Stadia should be mixed-use and boast lot of offerings so that it can be utilized the whole year round.

To drive home his point, he further pointed out that earlier, airports were a place where only flights used to take off and land – “Today, airports are mixed-use buildings which has helped generate a lot of jobs not only in the form of the airport ground staff but also in the stores, in the hotels and the other components which airports today boast. There has been a total transformation and this same kind of modification is required in the case of sports venues.”

To further drive home his point, he mentioned about the traditional telephones of yore which had a singular use – to make/receive calls – “But the smart phones of today have multiple uses and it has become an integral part of people’s lives. The stadia industry will also have to go through the same kind of sea change.”

He then goes on to talk about the new Tigres Stadium and dishes out the details.

Tigres Stadium takeaways:

  • It will be designed by celebrated design practice Populous;
  • It will hold up to 65,000 spectators;
  • It will employ more than 60,000 people directly or indirectly;
  • The stadium will be designed not only to host soccer games, but also the National Football League (NFL) fixtures, concerts, athletics, and even entertainment events;
  • It will sit on the site of the University Stadium and will boast a retractable pitch;
  • The venue will come armed with added attractions like hotels, offices and even UANL classrooms. It will be a mixed-use development;
  • The price tag of the stadium will stand at 320 million dollars, and the tab will be picked up by private investors;
  • The new stadium will be a nod to the Tigres’ present home – Estadio Universitario;
  • A university district will be created;
  • The stadium is going to enjoy all the specifications for holding NFL games “Because people in Mexico are huge fans of the NFL”;
  • LED certificate for sustainability – “Of course, this has to make sense for investors because we are developing this project with help from private investors and we have to create a solid business plan for that”;
  • It will be a multipurpose stadium in the real sense of the term. The capacity will be 65,000 for football, 71,000 for NFL games “But we will also hold concerts and athletics events and will remove some of the lower bowls to host athletics”;
  • The stadium is going to be full of activities the whole year round; and
  • It will boast hotels and some of the rooms will get converted to suites on the day of the match.


Brand counts

Esparza asserted that the new Tigres Stadium will be a brand unto itself and will help boost the “glitz” factor of the City of Monterrey in Mexico as well as the State of Nuevo León.

He stated that brand counts and drawing a comparison he mentioned that a ‘Made in Mexico’ product will not find many buyers like a ‘Made in Germany’ product will – “This whole brand quotient is a very important factor for countries as well as for Cities. A product carries weight as per the economic prowess of the country.”

In this context, Esparza pointed out that Dubai has scripted one of the greatest success stories – “They have developed from zero to a globally recognized brand.”

The head honcho informed that the City of Monterrey is also a “Huge brand and boasts great economic might. The new Tigres Stadium will act as a picture-postcard stadium of Nuevo León. We hope that the new facility of Tigres will act as an iconic building with which people would identify the City and would prove to be a favorite spot for selfie lovers.”

Mexico misconception

He stated that people have a huge misconception that Mexico is in South America whereas the reality is that Mexico is in North America -“Monterrey is very well connected to the United States. We are right next door to the biggest market in the world – the US.”

Monterrey specifics

  • Monterrey is home to many global companies and one of them is the renowned cement company Cemex which has a global presence;
  • Monterrey is a strategic City of Mexico;
  • The best universities are in Monterrey;
  • Monterrey boasts the best business environment; and
  • The Tigres UANL is the “soul” of Monterrey.


Tigres UANL

Tigres UANL – the top-flight club plays in Liga MX – the top professional football division of the Mexican football league system. It is a team which boasts the cream of crop players – André-Pierre Christian Gignac is a French professional footballer who plays as a striker for Tigres UANL. Gignac is described as a “powerful and dangerous” striker who is known for his “aerial presence”.

Tigres roar

A full-of-pride Esparza stated, “Every game of Tigres is a total soldout. The fan base of Tigres is so strong that even when they play as an away team, the stadium is packed like sardines with their diehard fans. This is why the top-notch is called the ‘Incomparables’.”

Tigres UANL Femenil

The Tigres UANL Femenil is a Mexican women’s football club based in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico. The club has been the female section of Tigres UANL since 2017. The team plays in the Liga MX Femenil which commenced in September 2017.

The women’s team is equally a force to reckon with and have been champions four times. The Tigres UANL Femenil also boasts a very strong fan base and is “Kind of world record that for one of their games all 40,000 seats were sold out. A rare phenomenon in case of a women’s soccer team.”

The women’s team home ground too is the Estadio Universitario.

Estadio Universitario

Esparza summed up by stating that the Estadio Universitario is in a state of total disrepair – “The stadium is almost 60 years old. Since the venue is located inside the University of Nuevo León, we have to refurbish the university first because this is where the team is located. And the university owns the Tigres’ women’s team.”

Raison d’ etre

The Tigres UANL is the raison d’ etre of the Mexican State of Nuevo León whose people have a great passion for soccer and their hearts and souls lies in the top-flight team. The UANL Tigres is a testament to the values, hard work, determination, and the design of the people to excel.

Today, Nuevo León has a globally competitive economy – this is Tigres – a leading team at the national and international level and the Tigres women’s team is a worldwide example of the importance of women soccer. The time has come for the Incomparable fans of Tigres, the Autonomous University of Nuevo León and the community of Nuevo León to write a new page in their history – the new Tigres Stadium – a stadium that honors history, preserves the passion of the Volcán Stadium and drives the State into the future.

The new Tigres Stadium will indeed be a mixed-use building that will generate jobs and economic benefits every day of the year. The City, the team and the fans expected it and they deserve it. Today, what used to be a dream is underway and will soon be a reality – the new Tigres stadium – an ‘Incomparable’ stadium.

The UANL Tigres (both men and women’s team) have brought much pride to the Mexican State of Nuevo León and they deserve nothing but the best in the form of the new Tigres Stadium which promises to be an expansive and luxurious facility.

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