Mexico: Azteca's birthday in protests’ shadow - turmoil before World Cup

source:; author: Kuba Kowalski

Mexico: Azteca's birthday in protests’ shadow - turmoil before World Cup The legendary Mexican venue has turned 57 years old, and is set to become an important part of the World Cup, which would come to the Coloso de Santa Ursula for the third time in its history. However, the start of the renovations that were scheduled before this event are on hold and the future of Azteca is unknown.


Estadio Azteca's rich history

Estadio Azteca recently celebrated 57 years of existence, as the inauguration took place on May 29, 1966, at noon, in a match in which América and Torino faced each other. Its construction began in 1962 and the project was carried out by Mexican architects: Pedro Ramírez Vázquez and Rafael Mijares Alcérreca.

The venue has hosted two World Cups and will host its third championship tournament in 2026. The arena has witnessed memorable events such as Brazil and Pelé winning the cup in 1970 and Diego Armando Maradona's Argentina in 1986. To the sporting events must also be added the numerous concerts, including a huge series of five performances by Michael Jackson in 1993, which were attended by a total of 550,000 spectators. The stands were also filled by Pope John Paul II during his 1999 visit.

Estadio Azteca© @verticaldronemx

Protests against the project before the World Cup

On the afternoon of May 29, residents of Tlalpan and Coyoacán protested against the Azteca Stadium mega-project, which includes the construction of a hotel and shopping centre for the 2026 World Cup. In their view, the said project will leave them without water and contribute to gentrification - a change in the character of a part of the city to one populated by people of higher material status.

Before the march, the protesters read out a statement opposing the project funded by Altavista Sur Inmobiliaria and Futbol del Distrito Federal. The model of the city that calls us to demonstrate is still reinforced by politics - one thinks of the city only as a commodity, they warned with the help of an announcer.

Water yes, megaprojects no they shouted through the loudspeaker, with banners bearing slogans such as If there is no water for the people, there will be no peace for the government and No to the Estadio Azteca project: displacement, gentrification, dispossession, taking our water and raising rates. Upon arriving at the Azteca stadium, they closed the Calzada de Tlalpan for a few minutes, where they voiced their opposition to the government's plan.

Estadio Azteca© @verticaldronemx

Increases, uncertainty and passing time

The capital's government announced in August last year that it would reconsider a redevelopment project to prepare a shopping and hotel complex for the 2026 World Cup. The revised proposal approved by the authority indicates that a four-storey shopping centre and a seven-storey hotel are being considered next to the stadium, which also includes a parking lot that would add 925 parking spaces to the 6,718 already in place.

As for the stadium itself, among the improvements are the addition of a tunnel to allow players to reach the changing rooms directly, as well as changes to the seats. However, many of the aforementioned changes may face setbacks, as properties located near Azteca Stadium have seen accelerated capital gains of up to 34% in recent months as the World Cup approaches. As a result of the redevelopment plans for Coloso de Santa Úrsula, at least 25 neighbourhoods located in the districts of Coyoacán and Tlalpan have seen an increase in property costs.

How will the dispute over the stadium in the Mexican capital end? In addition to this venue, the World Cup will be hosted by 15 more arenas - see them all in the video we prepared for the upcoming event: