Tens of thousands of fans of the Oakland Raiders and the Houston Texans traveled to Mexico City last November to root for their respective football teams.
Among them were Alise Levine, who lives in San Jose, California, and her friend, Rachel Brown.
Alise has been attending as many of the Silver and Black’s away games as she can for 16 years. She has been an Oakland Raiders seasons ticket holder for four years.
Look over Alise’s shoulder as she reminisces about her epic trip to Mexico City to root for the Raiders. My interview with Alise follows:
How did you become a Raiders fan?
I became a Raiders fan about 16 years ago when a friend invited me to a few away games. I have had Golden State Warriors season tickets for 29 years.
Oh, don’t get me started on the Warriors! That would be another interview!!!
I’m a die-hard Warriors. My #1 love. LOL.
Such loyal fans through so many losing seasons. But, getting back to my original question, is it true you’ve been to every game this season?
Every game except for three: Denver, Kansas City, and San Diego.
So what’s it like attending a game in a “hostile environment”?
Win or lose, I’ve never had an issue at an away game. It’s fun to meet new people. I don’t talk trash unless it comes to me first.
If they say anything, I have a great reply.
I say, “When you attend two or eight away games a year and support your team through thick and thin, then you can say you are a true fan like I am.
They have nothing to say in return. LOL!
It’s so fun to be at the games live.
I know … wish that I could … but I live in Hong Kong …
Ohhhh. Awesome, though …
I’m a Bay Area fan in general. I moved here at age 10 from New York.
There are some GREAT Raiders fans in NYC!!!
Yes, the NY club is fantastic!.
Do you make your own travel arrangements or do you travel as part of a group?
Most of the time I arrange it myself. A few times a season a huge trip is arranged by a Raider fan group, such as the New Orleans game.
For Mexico City, we went with PrimeSport – for the events and for SAFETY!
A lot of cities have booster clubs like Tampa, New York, and DC. They arrange host hotels and plan parties and tailgate.
Other cities don’t really do that so I book things myself, like in Nashville.
How did you get to Mexico City?
I went on American Airlines, SFO to LAX, LAX to Mexico City, took about 5 hours of flying and a layover in LA.
Did you travel independently or in a group? If in a group, what was the mood like on the trip down?
I traveled with my friend Rachel. We were very excited, and everyone on the flights were very excited, too.
There were a lot of Raiders fans on the flight from LA to Mexico City!!!
Where did you stay? What was the hotel like?
I stayed at the Hyatt Regency… In the Polanco area. It was a ritzy area for Mexico City near museums, parks, restaurants, and malls.
It was a fantastic hotel with many amenities… a GREAT bar area and a few great places to eat, as well.
The TEAM stayed at the same hotel Sunday night when they came in. It was not planned that way, but it was fantastic
Did you do any sightseeing?
Yes, we did. We visited the following places: El Bazar Del Sábado, Bazar Del oro, Museo Soumaya, Olympic Stadium Angel de la Independencia, Bellas Artes Palace, and Restaurante Arroyo.
The food was very good at every place I ate.
It was better [than in the United States] I think.
Did people in Mexico City seem to be aware of the game?
Yes! EVERYONE was aware of the game. There was a fan fest and also signs everywhere.
What was the fan fest like? How did it compare to the events they had in London?
It was okay , not great. But I think it was more for the Mexican fans, not the Americans.
Did you experience any animosity because of the recent election?
I did not experience any problems whatsoever of any type in Mexico at all
What about game day? What was it like? Since it was a night game, what did you do before the game?
Game day was exciting. We got on a bus with our PrimeSport group at 1 pm. We went to an exclusive event for PrimeSport.
Then we had a fiesta before the game for about three hours at an events place / restaurant called Arroyo.
The food was excellent. There was one room for Raiders fans and one for Texans. We had entertainment with bands and dancers and a photo booth as well.
It was a real Mexican fiesta, and we got to experience the culture. We then took the bus to the game. The traffic was HORRENDOUS!
How about the trip to the stadium, the game itself, and after the game was over?
Traffic is very bad in Mexico City, 7 million cars at one time. It took us a while, and we had a POLICE escort getting into the stadium.
Security was tight and the lines were very long. There were police EVERY where and dogs.
After the game, there were police everywhere, as well, but it was easy to get out.
I know that some fans were afraid to go because they were worried about security? Were there any safety issues?
There were no safety issues. I didn’t feel unsafe at all.
[There were] 6,000 police at the game, including our police from the NFL.
We met a guy who usually is at Levi Stadium (home of the San Francisco 49ers) waiting in line by me to get into the game. He was a dog police!
It was tough though with the language barrier. The police did NOT speak any English.
Would you recommend Mexico City as a travel destination?
I’m not sure I would. It was beautiful, and the tours and history and the food were good, but because of the safety there, that is a tough question.
If the safety of Americans were not an issue, I would say yes.
Do you have any tips for would-be visitors?
If you go, definitely stay in a top notch hotel and go with a tour group like i did. Ifelt safe at all times.
There has been talk of the NFL expanding overseas. Do you think Mexico City would be a suitable candidate for an expansion team?
No, I don’t think it’s a good choice. [There are] too many security issues there and too many people and too much traffic at all times.
Anything else you would like to add?
I am very glad went and had the experience. I don’t think I would go again though.
Thank you so much, Alise! It has been a pleasure chatting with you!