Argentine superstar Lionel Messi’s Miami transfer has sparked a ticket-buying spree. Even before Lionel Messi uttered the words that would revolutionize American soccer, before MLS could clarify that no finalized contract was in place, the bonanza erupted.
It spread throughout the league, earning an unofficial moniker: “The Messi Effect,” as coined by some team officials. On the first day of this exhilarating new era, Inter Miami’s opponents swiftly sold tens of thousands of tickets, causing prices to skyrocket both in Miami and beyond.
MLS fans eagerly await Messi’s debut, which is still at least a month away. He is scheduled for two mid-June friendlies with Argentina in Asia before taking some time off. Reports suggest he will vacation in his hometown of Rosario and then in Europe. Messi will officially sign with Miami on or after July 5, requiring time to adjust and undergo a mini-preseason following a brief offseason. Only after this process will he grace the field for Inter Miami, possibly making his debut on July 21 against Cruz Azul, or as late as August.
Nevertheless, Lionel Messi’s Miami Transfer has already made an impact at D.C. United, who will host Miami on July 8. According to a club source, they sold over 3,000 tickets on Wednesday alone for a match where Messi is highly unlikely to play.
Even the Philadelphia Union, set to host Miami on June 24, experienced a surge in standing-room-only ticket sales for that game, according to a club spokeswoman.
But it’s the matches where Messi will actually take the field that witnessed an even more significant surge, according to club spokespeople and ticket brokers. By early evening, the Chicago Fire were on track to sell around 10,000 tickets by the end of the day for their October 3 game against Miami. This surpassed their previous total sales since tickets first became available, despite raising the price of the cheapest ticket to $250.
Charlotte FC also sold over 10,000 tickets on Wednesday for their October 21 match, opening the upper bowl of Bank of America Stadium, which they share with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. The cheapest tickets were priced at $125 each, and by 11 p.m. ET, the last pair had been snatched up. Only resale tickets remained, ranging from $182 to $10,000. (The lowest available ticket price for Charlotte’s previous game against Toronto in the lower bowl was $26.)
On the secondary market, ticket prices soared to unprecedented heights. The New York Red Bulls, who typically see cheap resale prices of $20 or $30, quickly sold out their August 26 game against Miami, with the lowest StubHub prices reaching almost $500, including fees.
For LAFC on September 3, the starting price is around $700.
Even in St. Louis, where Miami will visit on July 15, ahead of Messi’s anticipated debut, prices surpassed $200 and neared $300. Some astute ticket holders who had read about realistic debut dates immediately contemplated cashing in on the likely inflated surge, potentially recouping the entire amount they paid for season tickets.
Clubs themselves recognized an opportunity to capitalize on Messi’s allure. For instance, Orlando City announced an updated ticketing scheme for their September 24 rivalry match, offering “priority access” to anyone purchasing new pro-rated season ticket packages or “four-match packs.”