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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Hosting Messi’s Highly Anticipated MLS Debut Is No Accident For Red Bulls

  • Inter Miami has played in Leagues Cup and U.S. Open Cup matches since signing Messi.
  • The New York Red Bulls are expecting huge revenue for Saturday night's match.
Syndication: The Enquirer

Lionel Messi has already made a drastic impact on American soccer, but he still has a key debut ahead.

After eight games in the Leagues Cup and U.S. Open Cup competition, Messi will play in his first regular-season MLS tilt on Saturday night when Inter Miami visits the New York Red Bulls.

It’s expected to bring in two-to-three times the revenue of an average match, Red Bulls president and GM Marc de Grandpré told Front Office Sports. “It’s our largest-ever MLS gate since we’ve been at Red Bull Arena,” de Grandpré said.

The match’s timing involved some luck — the Leagues Cup run delayed a Miami home game — and strategic planning. “The process started when we heard he may be coming — last December, those rumors were rumbling,” de Grandpré explained. “So we worked with the league to make sure that our home match against Miami would be in the latter half of our season.”

What Could Have Been

In future seasons, the Red Bulls could host Messi in MetLife Stadium, which boasts a capacity of 82,500, compared to Red Bull Arena’s 25,000. “This year, it couldn’t work out because the Jets and Giants are playing Saturday,” said de Grandpré. “But it’s certainly something that’s on the table as we look forward.”

Inter Miami has yet to lose with Messi — something de Grandpré sees as a good challenge for MLS. “I also believe that it pushes everyone across the league to elevate their standard,” he said. “We have to make sure that we keep developing our product on the pitch — make it more competitive, not only within the Americas but globally.”

Editor’s Note: You can hear more from de Grandpré about hosting Messi on Friday’s episode of the Front Office Sports Today podcast. Check here for the latest episodes.

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