Lionel Messi Increases Ticket Prices: Can He Also Boost the Quality Perception of Major League Soccer?

August 18, 2023
Patrick Rishe


Soccer superstar Lionel Messi will grace Nashville with his presence as he and Inter Miami CF gear up to challenge Nashville SC in the highly anticipated Leagues Cup final. Fans eagerly await the match, scheduled for Saturday, August 19, at 9 p.m. ET. Tickets went on sale Wednesday. Messi has been on a scoring spree since joining Miami, netting nine goals in a mere six matches. Given the buzz, experts predict skyrocketing ticket prices. The interest in Messi tracks a growing overall interest in Major League Soccer, which recently announced its 30th franchise in San Diego.

Can one soccer superstar propel an entire league and raise the game to new heights in terms of popularity, perception, and revenue in the United States? Suite Talk’s Patrick Rishe believes Lionel Messi is the opportunity Major League Soccer’s been seeking.

Patrick’s Thoughts

“Hey everybody, welcome to Suite Talk, and the talk today, of course, is Lionel Messi and his Inter-Miami CF have run through the League’s Cup, and they play in the finals this Saturday against Nashville.

I wanted to take a second to reflect on the impact that Messi is having on prices, on attendance, as well as the perceptions of Major League Soccer. So, as we look at what’s happened to ticket prices, it’s really astounding. First of all, the impact on Inter-Miami’s secondary prices, resale prices now cost $282 on average. Before his arrival, those same resale prices were $31 on average. So clearly, a massive impact on those prices, and as we look forward to this Saturday’s League’s Cup final against Nashville, in Nashville, the minimum buy-in price right now on StubHub, before fees, is $400. And if you click on that and then actually factor in the fees, it drives it up to $550.

So, this is the impact that Messi is having on the demand to watch at least Inter-Miami’s matches, and hopefully, that’s going to have a trickle-down effect on just increasing the excitement and interest in Major League Soccer. Certainly, subscriptions of Apple Television have gone up, and a lot of this has to do with Messi’s inclusion in the League.

We see, of course, that to go along with this, attendance has gone up. In their semifinal victory in Philadelphia against the Philadelphia Union at Subaru Park, they set a record attendance of over 19,700 fans in attendance. So, the impact is there on prices, on attendance, on excitement. The one question remains is, how is this Messi’s success, and of course, he’s there with his former Barcelona teammates Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets, are they making people question the quality of Major League Soccer?

Because Inter-Miami was at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, and all of a sudden, here they are running roughshod over the League. Let’s see what happens going forward. I think Miami is too far back to make it into the MLS playoffs for this year, but if the competition now if they get back into the Major League Soccer season, will teams be a little bit more competitive playing their regular full sides? I think that’s something that we need to look at going forward because if Miami all of a sudden, with this trio of superstars, runs roughshod over the League, then that’s going to probably impact global perceptions of the real quality of Major League Soccer, something that we all thought was steadily rising over time.

I still think it is, but let’s see what happens going forward. At the very least, this may force team GMs to step it up in terms of their talent recruitment, and this may ultimately raise the overall quality of the League as we look into 2024 and beyond, going towards that World Cup in 2026. For Suite Talk, the business behind sports, I’m Patrick Rishe.”

Article by James Kent

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