Lionel Messi is coming to Miami, and he’s boosting MLS ticket sales big time

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Lionel Messi celebrates his second goal of the match between Honduras and Argentina at Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, Sept 23, 2022.

Icon Sportswire | Icon Sportswire | Getty Images

It’s been three days since soccer legend Lionel Messi shocked the soccer world by announcing his move to MLS club Inter Miami FC after parting ways with Paris Saint-Germain, and ticket prices around the league are already soaring.

Secondary ticket market StubHub says sales for Inter Miami’s matches beginning in July have increased nearly 28 times since the announcement.

July 2023 matches onward have already sold as many tickets as the entire 2022 season compared with this time last year, the ticketing company said.

The chance to see Messi, widely regarded as one of the greatest soccer players of all time and a winner of last year’s World Cup, isn’t going to come cheap.

Average ticket prices on StubHub for the David Beckham-owned team are up 4.5 times, jumping from $24.52 to $124.51 since the news dropped.

Another secondary ticket site, Vivid Seats, reported the average price to attend a Leagues Cup match between the Mexican League’s Cruz Azul and Inter Miami has soared 1,021%. On June 4, a ticket cost $122, and six days later, that same ticket was going for $1,413.

In just a few days, Inter Miami went from being the seventh-highest selling team of the 2023 season to the fourth-highest selling team for season sales on StubHub.

“Supply is limited,” sports business analyst Joe Pompliano said on CNBC’s “Last Call.”

“If you look at Miami’s stadium, they only have 18K seats. When you look across Europe, in Barcelona specifically [where Messi spent most of his career], they have 100K seats. There is a fundamental imbalance in the supply and demand equation we are seeing,” he added.

This is all for a team that sits last place in the MLS’ Eastern Conference and is now on the hunt for a new coach after recently firing third-year coach Phil Neville.

It’s not just Miami seeing the uptick — Messi’s future competitors are also seeing a bump.

“Messi will be a draw for soccer fans across the country, drawing fans to away matches much like we see with big stars in the NFL and NBA,” said Adam Budelli, a spokesperson for StubHub.

Messi and Inter Miami are set to visit LAFC at SoFi Stadium on Sept. 3. Sales for the match moved from the 15th highest-selling event of the season to the second — and it’s on track to easily be the No. 1 event of the LAFC season, StubHub data shows.

In Miami, it’s not just ticket sales that are seeing a nice bump. Merchandise is also taking off.

Fanatics won’t start printing Messi Inter Miami FC jerseys until the deal is official, but fans are already scooping up team gear in large numbers.

The digital sports platform says more Inter Miami merchandise has been sold since Wednesday than the previous two months combined.

Since Wednesday, Inter Miami is a top-five selling team across all sports throughout the Fanatics network.

Meanwhile, Inter Miami is getting ready to cash in on its future global audience.

According to Josh Gerben, trademark attorney at Gerben Law, the team filed an application June 5 to trademark the phrase “LIBERTAD PARA SOÑAR,” the Spanish translation of the team’s slogan, “Freedom to Dream.”

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