The recent move of soccer superstar Lionel Messi to Major League Soccer (MLS) has had a significant impact on ticket sales, with prices for late-season games in the U.S. skyrocketing by over 1,700% on the secondary market compared to last year. In July, Messi signed a lucrative contract with Inter Miami CF worth $50-60 million per year, which also includes an equity stake in the team. He also signed undisclosed revenue-sharing agreements with Apple TV and Adidas.
Messi's arrival in the U.S. has generated a surge of interest in both Inter Miami and the MLS, which is not typically considered one of the world's top-tier leagues in terms of talent. The signing has led to a doubling of subscriptions to "MLS Season Pass" on Apple TV, according to Inter Miami owner Jorge Mas. Additionally, Inter Miami's Instagram account has seen a remarkable increase in followers, growing from 1 million to 14 million. The demand for Messi-branded jerseys has been so high that the MLS' official online store has experienced delays in delivery until as late as October.
The impact of Messi's arrival is evident in the ticket prices for Inter Miami games. Average ticket prices for home games on the secondary market have increased by 468% since Messi's signing, rising from $152 to $864 as of August 18. The effect is more pronounced for away games, with average ticket prices for all remaining away games combined up by 1,002% compared to last year.
For specific upcoming games, the average ticket price against the New York Red Bulls is $1,674, a 1,760% increase from last year's average of $90. Similarly, the average ticket price for a game against rival Orlando City SC has surged from $97 in 2022 to $1,755 with Messi's arrival, a difference of 1,709%.
Even the cheapest seats have seen a significant increase in price. The lowest-cost ticket for a game against the New York Red Bulls has risen from around $36 to $578 since Messi's arrival. Similarly, the cheapest ticket for a match against Chicago Fire FC has gone up from $23 last year to $192.
Overall, Messi's move to the MLS has had a transformative effect on ticket sales, generating a surge of interest and driving up prices for both home and away games. The impact of his arrival is seen in the sharp increase in subscriptions, social media followers, and demand for merchandise.