Prices are soaring for those hoping to catch a glimpse of Lionel Messi playing with Inter Miami in the United States. The Argentine star is setting the Leagues Cup on fire with his performances, and the chances to witness them live are getting harder to come by: teams are selling out their seating capacity in just 10 minutes and tickets in the secondary market start out at as much as US$9,000.
The “Messi Effect” can be felt in many ways. On the pitch, the former FC Barcelona forward has turned one of the worst American league Major League Soccer teams into a force to be reckoned with, undefeated since his arrival. In just three games, Messi has scored five goals — enough to make him the fastest player in league history to do so.
His presence can be felt on social media, where Inter Miami’s followers have multiplied tenfold, and also in the ticket boxes, where prices are growing at roughly the same rate.
After winning the Clásico del Sol against Florida rivals Orlando City, Inter Miami secured a place in the Leagues Cup round of 16. This will be the first time the team travels outside of Florida, as it plays away against Texan team FC Dallas.
Still, there will be plenty of Messi fans. Less than 24 hours after it was confirmed that the Argentine superstar would visit the Toyota Stadium in Texas, the team announced on social media that its 20,500 available seats were already sold out. Ticket prices that ranged from US$675 in the general area up to US$5,850 are now starting at as much as US$9,000 in the Leagues Cup official resale site.
Messi economics breaking MLS records
People hoping for the hype to die down and get better tickets down the line may also be out of luck. According to The Athletic’s Paul Tenorio, other MLS teams are on path to set new record highs in attendance and ticket revenue.
Chicago Fire, one of the worst-performing franchises currently in the MLS, is one of those teams. They have so far reported around US$7 million in total ticket sales for home games. However, they are expecting to rake in more than US$10 million in revenue just for the October 4 game against Inter, when Messi is set to visit Soldier Field stadium, with a 61,000 seating capacity. They sold 10,000 tickets in the first 10 hours after it was announced the World Cup-winner would be joining Inter Miami.
Other clubs have also benefited. Despite losing to Inter Miami in the Leagues Cup, Atlanta United saw its revenue go up. Due to high attendance, they were forced to open the usually closed-off upper seats of its 71,000 capacity Mercedes-Benz Stadium, selling out the 25,000-seat section at an average price of US$150 per seat.