Major League Soccer’s hottest new star is already paying off for Inter Miami.
The move of football star of all time Lionel Messi is set to double the club’s revenue over the next 12 months, managing owner Jorge Mas told CNBC’s Halftime Report. The Argentina international and former Barcelona star joined Inter Miami on Monday.
Mas also said his team’s value could reach $1.3 billion to $1.5 billion next year. The most recent Forbes estimate places Miami as the 11th most valuable team in MLS, valued at $600 million.
“When we chose the Inter Miami project, we really wanted to be the premier platform for soccer in the United States,” said Mas.
Supporters of Argentine soccer player Leo Messi gather in front of Inter Miami DRV Pnk Stadium on July 11, 2023 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Marco Bello | Reuters
He said the process of bringing Messi to Miami started in 2019 when he and co-owner David Beckham flew to Barcelona to meet up with Messi’s father.
“When does an athlete really have an opportunity to change sports? And I think that’s the chance Messi has in front of him,” Mas said.
Mas said he’s already seeing a tremendous “Messi effect,” both commercially and in South Florida.
“It’s the only thing anyone talks about,” he added.
Messi kits are sold out and Adidas is printing them 24/7, Mas said.
Sports Ecommerce Platform Fanatics told CNBC that Messi could set a record for most jerseys sold for a player joining a new team in a sport after 24 hours. Messi’s sales numbers match the current record for first-day shirt sales set by Cristiano Ronaldo immediately after his move to Manchester United in 2021.
Ticket prices for Messi’s US debut on Friday average close to $1,300 on secondary ticketing platforms such as TicketIQ.
Mas said he hopes the excitement will help MLS compete with Europe’s top leagues.
“I think it’s on me and my partners in Major League Soccer and my co-owners to seize the moment before us to hopefully turn Major League Soccer into a competitive advantage with the Premier League over the next three to five years .” Mas said.
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