The Mexican League soccer stop Tuesday night at Dell Diamond will bring together the curious with displaced fans in Central Texas. Back home, though, Liga MX is a big deal. Think NFL. Large crowds, impressive TV ratings, significant salaries.
“This is Mexico’s pro fútbol,” said match promoter Fred Godinez of Latin Entertainment. “The players are rock stars. You see them in commercials down there, in marketing campaigns. They earn the big bucks.”
Chivas of Guadalajara and Pachuca will play a preseason match at Dell Diamond, and about 8,500 tickets have been sold. Between 10,000 and 12,000 fans are expected, according to J.J. Gottsch, chief operating officer for Ryan-Sanders Baseball.
“These are two traditional, popular teams who’ve been around for more than 100 years and have won a lot of championships,” Gottsch said. “Chivas has never been to Austin or San Antonio. They have a lot of fans coming in from South Texas.”
Those fans want to see such Chivas standouts as midfielders Angel Reyna and Marco Fabian, who make a combined $3.2 million annually. Or team captain and forward Omar Bravo, second on Chivas’ all-time goal-scoring list with 121. Fabian had a team-leading seven goals and Bravo six in the winter Clausura season.
Liga MX players average more than $300,000 a year in salary, according to the Daily Mail of London. Players in Major League Soccer average $225,000 annually, according to the players union’s website.
For 2014, Liga MX ranked fifth worldwide in average attendance at 22,939 fans per game. The average for MLS was 19,149.
On the field, Liga MX generally checks in at eighth to 10th in world rankings, slightly ahead of MLS. Mexican teams have won every CONCACAF Champions League tournament since its inception in 2009.
“The quality is very good,” Godinez said. “We put on matches last week that filled stadiums with 16,000 fans in Sacramento and Fresno. We’ve done Mexican international friendlies in Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon and now Texas. We’re going to Washington and Idaho next.”
Chivas prides itself on fielding a roster of only Mexican players. About 30 percent of Liga MX players are foreign-born, most from South America. Chivas left back Miguel Angel Ponce was born in Sacramento, Calif., before moving to Guadalajara with his family as an infant.
Both teams arrived in Austin on Saturday, when Chivas drew more than 100 supporters to the airport. They have done some public appearances, mostly in East Austin.When they worked out at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock on Sunday, social media spread the word, leading security personnel to close the practices to fans.
Pachuca, which includes talented midfielders Erick Gutierrez, Ruben Botta and Irving Lozano and center back Aquivaldo Mosqueda, is owned by Carlos Slim, the second-richest man in the world. A telecom giant, Slim is worth an estimated $77.1 billion, according to Forbes Magazine, and trails only Bill Gates.
Godinez said he has a 66-man traveling crew to take care of logistics for the teams, and Gottsch, whose group owns the Round Rock Express and Dell Diamond, is happy about that.
“When you bring in teams of this stature, there is a different level of requirement that needs to be met in terms of accomodations, transportation, security and the rest,” Gottsch said.
Chivas vs. Pachuca
What: Liga MX preseason match
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Dell Diamond
Tickets: midfield reserved, $55; lower goal reserved, $44; corner reserved, $33; upper goal reserved, $33
About Chivas: The Guadalajara-based team has won 11 top-level Mexican titles, most recently in 2006.
About Pachuca: The club, 57 miles northeast of Mexico City, has won six national titles, the last in 2007.