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Here are Four Ways Lionel Messi’s Move to MLS is Boosting the US Economy


International soccer superstar Lionel Messi has had an unmistakable impact on the American game since he joined Major League Soccer team Inter Miami on July 15.

The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has scored 11 goals in 11 games for Inter Miami, helping the team win the inaugural League Cup trophy and putting it in position for the MLS playoffs. But Messi’s impact hasn’t only been on the pitch. His arrival in the U.S. has been a boon not just for American soccer, but for the U.S. economy as well.

Key Takeaways

  • Lionel Messi’s arrival to MLS pushed ticket prices higher by as much as 1,700% in some cases, potentially generating $256 million in revenue for the league.
  • More than 110,000 fans signed up for Apple TV’s MLS Season Pass on the day the Messi deal was announced, with another 65,000 signing up for the service on the day of his first game with Inter Miami.
  • After purchasing a $10.75 million waterfront mansion in Ft. Lauderdale, real estate experts believe the superstar neighbor could press home values higher in the area. 

Here are four ways that Messi’s arrival is being felt on the economy in South Florida and across the U.S.:

More Money for MLS Teams

In 2022, MLS teams brought in an average of $57 million in revenue per year, well below the $545 million average for pro football teams, the $313 million that Major League Baseball teams draw or the $308 million in annual revenue that pro basketball teams average.

But Messi’s arrival in the MLS is bringing cash with it. One estimate showed higher ticket prices and sold-out stadiums he’s inspiring could generate up to $265 million in revenue for Inter Miami, with ticket prices as much as 1,700% higher in some cases. Inter Miami could see its value increase by as much as 30%.

And it’s not just Inter Miami that’s benefiting, as teams that are facing Messi and his teammates are also drawing big crowds. An Oct. 4 game at Chicago’s Soldier Field is expected to generate as much as $10 million in revenue, which could be a single-game record for the league. 

Apple TV+ Sign Ups Soar as Fans Find the Only Place to Watch Messi

A clear early winner from Messi’s arrival is Apple TV+, which has the exclusive television rights to MLS.

Apple (AAPL) saw a huge surge in subscriptions as fans flocked to its MLS Season Pass for a chance to see the superstar. About 110,000 signed up for Season Pass the day that Messi’s signing with Inter Miami was announced, which was more than the first day of sales for the MLS Season Pass or sales on the league’s opening day.

Another 65,000 signed up for Messi’s first game, as the boost in sales appears to show that the 10-year, $2.5 billion deal that Apple struck with MLS in February is paying off.

South Florida Neighbors Could See Housing Values Jump

Residents of Ft. Lauderdale’s Bay Colony community may be able to catch a glimpse of Messi in their neighborhood after the superstar purchased a $10.75 million waterfront estate there.

The eight-bedroom, nine-and-a-half bathroom, 10,500-square-foot mansion last sold for $9 million in 2022, and the average home price for the private neighborhood is $4.6 million. But some realtors think that could change now that Messi is there, potentially increasing home values in both Bay Colony and the greater Ft. Lauderdale area.

Miami Tourism Could Get as Much as a $400 Million Boost

Not everyone is willing to wait for Messi to come to their city. Based on trends other cities have experienced when hosting international sports stars, Messi could power up to a 10% increase in Miami tourism.

Based on 2021’s visitor totals, that could mean as many as 1.65 million additional tourists will visit Miami, potentially generating as much as $400 million in economic activity.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.