Horacio de la Vega
Former Director General
View from the Top

Transforming Mexico City into a Sports Capital

Sat, 12/01/2018 - 14:33

Q: What are Indeporte’s most important achievements of the past six years?

A: When my administration started in 2012, we developed a four-axis plan for sports in Mexico City: infrastructure, social sports, high performance and macro events. The first two years were difficult because the private sector was not very interested in supporting sports in general. Today, Indeporte operates, manages and supports more than 35 international sports events in Mexico City annually. This means that the city hosts an international event on 75 percent of the weekends of every year, including Formula 1, Formula E, PGA, LPGA, WEC, WRC and over 10 World Championships of different sports. We also have between 450 and 500 local or national events per year, which means that we have over 1.2 sports events per day in Mexico City.

Q: How have alliances with the private sector and sports organizations influenced Indeporte?

A: Developing a close relationship with the private sector helped strengthen Indeporte in the past six years. We are proud that even the smallest event we organized was sponsored by at least one brand. If a company or sponsor is interested in organizing a socially and economically viable sports event, we provide the necessary support for the project to happen. We also generate alliances with international organizations, such as the NFL, NBA, MLB and UFC.

Q: How did Indeporte attract the participation of the private sector to local and smaller sports events?

A: First, we built a relationship based on trust and credibility. If we say we are going to organize one of the most important marathons in the world and ask for Telcel’s support and then fail to deliver on that promise, we would lose credibility. What you promise, you need to deliver. It does not matter if it is a yoga class with 200 participants, the construction of a baseball stadium or a MX$1.5 billion (US$76.7 million) investment for the Hermanos Rodríguez racetrack. It is also crucial to understand what our private sector partners expect of an event in which they participate. We have to organize ourselves so private players can enjoy the return on investment they expect.

Q: What effort has Indeporte made to democratize access to sports and to generate social cohesion in Mexico City?

A: We have developed and executed over 32 social sports projects. These projects include tournaments or leagues that look to attract participants from every neighborhood in the city. Even for projects that involve the NFL, NBA or MLB, our vision has always been to have a broader impact beyond the big event through the participation of passive spectators. For instance, when we help put on the NFL game, we also include the NFL Experience, which has activities for children and families, and a flag football tournament that has 18,000 participants annually. These examples are also replicated with the NBA and MLB. Our goal is to reach all levels of society through these projects. There has also been significant growth in the number of private gyms but we recognize that not everyone can afford these. As a result, we implemented a project called urban gyms. These were established in urban spaces located in public parks, public gyms and lower-income apartment complexes.

Q: How can the city strengthen its sports infrastructure to ensure durability and accessibility?

A: There are two types of sports infrastructure: large sports facilities to host major events like the NFL, NBA and other professional sports and local infrastructure, which has a more social function but which has been neglected. In 2001, sports in the city were decentralized and local administrations took over management of sports facilities. Some administrations did a fairly good job, invested money and kept their sports facilities in good shape but most local authorities did a poor job and the facilities were neglected. What these facilities need is investment; however, this does not necessarily need to come from the government. In most cases, self-generated resources can be reinvested to improve the conditions of sports facilities.