Aug 15, 2023 - Sports

The Messi effect: Goals, ticket sales, TV numbers explode

Lionel Messi waves to fans during a recent Inter Miami game.

Lionel Messi greets fans during Friday's game. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

No disrespect to Jimmy Butler, but Lionel Messi might already be the new king of Miami sports.

Why it matters: The Argentinian soccer legend has sparked a fútbol frenzy in South Florida since joining Inter Miami CF in July, perhaps unlike anything Miami has seen since Beatlemania hit in 1964.

  • Hundreds of fans now line up two hours early to Inter Miami games for a chance to catch a glimpse of Messi arriving at the team parking lot.
  • Resale tickets for home games now sell for an average of $282 — up from just $31 before Messi joined the club, per SeatGeek.
  • Paid subscriptions to AppleTV+, the exclusive provider of Major League Soccer games, have more than doubled since Messi Mania struck.

What they're saying: Eddie Fuentes, a co-owner of Grails Miami, told the Wall Street Journal that the Wynwood sports bar has seen drink and food sales explode since Messi's arrival.

  • "We became a soccer town now," he said.

The latest: Inter Miami, which sits in last place in its conference, is now two wins away from winning the Leagues Cup, which would be the team's first-ever trophy since launching in 2018.

  • Inter is on a five-game winning streak since Messi arrived. He has scored in all five games, with eight goals in total.
  • The high-profile signings of Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba have also helped transform the team.

One crazy stat: Before Messi arrived, Inter had scored 22 goals in 22 games. Since then, they have scored 17 goals in five games, the Miami Herald notes.

What's next: The team plays the Philadelphia Union in the semifinals of the Leagues Cup tonight at 7pm in Pennsylvania.

  • Stream it on AppleTV or catch it at your local bar. Grails and Prison Pals Brewing have both been hosting watch parties.

💭 Martin's thought bubble: I went to my first-ever Inter game on Friday, and the atmosphere was surreal.

  • Supporters banged drums and chanted as fans stomped on the bleachers. The crowd cheered whenever Messi touched the ball, and fireworks went off each time Inter scored.
  • The heavily pro-Messi crowd reminded me of the international friendly game between Argentina and Honduras I saw at Hard Rock Stadium in 2022.

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