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Sunday, April 21, 2024
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Inter Miami Game Provides Short, Long-Term Gains for Chicago Fire

  • A record-breaking crowd of 62,124 packed into Soldier Field despite Lionel Messi's absence.
  • The Fire reportedly generated between $7 million and $10 million in revenue for the Miami game — more than every other Fire home game this season combined.
A general view of play during the first half between the Chicago Fire and the Inter Miami CF at Soldier Field.
Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

CHICAGO — Pink No. 10 shirts overwhelmed the stands at Soldier Field on Wednesday night.

The crowd of 62,124, which demolished the Chicago Fire’s previous regular season attendance record of 37,122, packed into the NFL stadium to see Lionel Messi — but the legend didn’t play or even make the trip to Chicago.

Still, the Fire’s 4-1 win over Inter Miami may have accomplished what it was supposed to.

“I know the fans; a lot of them maybe came for the first time because they wanted to see Lionel Messi. And who doesn’t want to see him? He’s such a great player,” Fire head coach Frank Klopas told reporters after the win. “They saw some great goals, and I think that’s what people want to see. It’s still about putting a show on the field, and that’s why people want to come and see special players like Messi. We have [Xherdan] Shaqiri, I think he’s special.”

Shaqiri — who, like Messi, used to star in Europe — injected energy into the stadium with the first and last goals of the night. Swiss countryman Maren Haile-Selassie contributed the middle two goals for Chicago.

“We had to give the fans something back so they can go home excited again and follow for the next game,” said Haile-Selassie.

In the leadup to the match, Fire president of business operations Dave Baldwin spoke to the importance of drawing fans in using Messi’s allure. When it started to look like Messi wouldn’t lace up his boots due to injury, the club pulled the highly unorthodox move of offering a $250 credit towards 2024 season tickets for new buyers who still attended the Miami game.

But even without Messi in the building, Chicago may have massively benefited in the short term: Per The Athletic, the Fire generated between $7 million and $10 million in revenue for the Miami game alone — more than every other Fire home game this season combined.

In the long term, an exciting win for the home team — that bolstered its MLS Cup Playoff hopes while dampening those of the visitors — may have gone a long way towards creating lifelong fans.

“I don’t know if they’ll be season ticket holders, but I definitely believe that they’ll come and see a number of games next year,” Klopas said. “Hopefully, not just the Miami game again.”

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