Messi Moving to Miami
By: Bartek Zarzecki
With his contract expiring at Paris Saint-Germain F.C., Lionel Messi has announced that he will continue his career in Major League Soccer (MLS) by signing with Inter Miami CF. The World Cup winner turned down a mega-deal worth over $400 million per year from a club in Saudi Arabia in order to come stateside and play for Inter Miami, the club that David Beckham co-owns.
According to multiple sources, including The Athletic, Messi’s deal includes him receiving revenue from several partnerships, including MLS and Apple’s broadcasting rights, along with Adidas, who is the league’s kit provider. On top of that, Messi will have the option to purchase and own a part of any MLS team upon leaving the league.
According to The Guardian, Messi’s announcement on Inter Miami’s Instagram page took the team from around one million followers to over 8.1 million followers. They now have more followers than the NFL’s most valuable franchise, the Dallas Cowboys. Resale tickets for Messi’s potential debut in Miami on July 21 against Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup are starting at almost $900, while the favored front-row halfway line tickets start at over $20,000.
Many believe that Messi playing in MLS will bring effects similar to when Pele, Beckham and other soccer greats came to America. League-wide attendance, ticket sales, international popularity, and team merchandising sales are set to skyrocket. It is very difficult to imagine there being a single empty seat in any stadium that Messi will play in. According to The Athletic, there is a slight possibility that MLS teams would consider larger venues (such as NFL or college stadiums) when Inter Miami comes to town as MLS “soccer-specific” stadiums only hold 18,000 to 30,000 spectators. Of course, the demand to watch Messi in person will be much greater than that. Others believe that MLS teams will simply raise the price of tickets due to the new increase in demand.
Messi’s arrival also brings up some concerns for the club. With so many wanting and planning to come and watch the game’s best player, there are doubts about the stadium. Miami currently plays at a temporary stadium, DRV PNK Stadium, in Fort Lauderdale. However, there is already a plan for a permanent stadium, Miami’s Freedom Park, to open in 2025. Not enough security seems to be the main issue concerning Messi’s arrival and will have to improve to accommodate the legend.
Messi’s decision to play in America makes him the latest arrival in a trend of the world’s best generational talents transforming soccer in America. A player of Messi’s caliber is a marketer’s dream. Messi will significantly alter and transform the image and brand of not only Inter Miami, but the MLS and soccer in America as a whole. What once felt like a small league on the global spectrum, now feels considerably larger and more meaningful with Messi.