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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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MLS Stresses Clubs Take Initiative In Harnessing Messi Mania

  • Commissioner says clubs are responsible for building their own fan bases
  • Messi continues to drive historic spikes in ticket resale pricing
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off Inter Miami’s dramatic Leagues Cup triumph, MLS isn’t employing a top-down approach to further capitalize on Messi Mania. 

Lionel Messi has scored 10 goals, led Inter Miami to seven straight wins and the tournament title, and driven an extensive series of business gains since joining MLS last month. But as Inter Miami returns to the league’s main domestic competition, MLS sees no need to develop a masterplan for clubs to employ when Messi visits their market.

“It is the responsibility of the local clubs to build their fan base,” said MLS commissioner Don Garber. “The league is not going to tell them what to do when somebody else comes to town.”

Garber’s comments highlight a delicate situation. Messi’s popularity is like nothing else in MLS history — and presents a perhaps once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the league to transform its stature and business. At the same time, Garber and MLS are tasked with building strength across the league that will far outlast Messi.

“It’s not just about that one player,” Garber said. “It’s about: How do you feel about your club, and can that player give you something that might make it a little more special?”

Ticket Frenzy

Messi continues to drive massive increases in ticket resale prices. 

Inter Miami will play the U.S. Open Cup semifinal Wednesday against FC Cincinnati, after which the Argentine icon will play his first regular-season MLS match against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday. Resale prices for the club’s late-season matches have surged as much as 1,760%, according to ticket aggregator TicketIQ. 

Some of those figures are skewed by high-end listings that may not lead to sales. But current get-in pricing for any of the club’s remaining 2023 games is not less than $135 per ticket.

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