It’s no secret that the signing of Messi will be Inter Miami’s greatest coup. The club has already profited from the imminent arrival of the soccer superstar.
Inter Miami’s social media following has exploded, ticket prices have skyrocketed and upcoming fixtures have already sold out.
But Messi Mania is expected to have a wider-reaching impact beyond the soccer world and the city of Miami is ready.
Messi’s brand is greater than the magic he performs on the field and so will his impact.
By being the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner’s new home, Miami and Fort Lauderdale, where the team plays, is expected to experience an economical and social boost as where the global icon goes, the fans will flock. And flock in their thousands they shall.
Lionel Messi is expected to have a massive impact not only on MLs but on Miami too
The international superstar could put the city of Fort Lauderdale on the global stage
Lionel Messi and his wife Antonela and their three sons landed in Miami on Tuesday
Stephanie Toothaker, a board member from the Fort Lauderdale Downtown Development Authority, insisted ‘there’s no question’ that hotels in the city will see an uptick in bookings.
‘All I can say is everyone is excited,’ she told DailyMail.com. ‘Everyone is bracing themselves. And you know people are excited because there is so much buzz. I don’t think I’ve ever had so many people ask me for tickets.
‘But it’s not just the fans, the business community is really excited and the development community is really excited. I think Fort Lauderdale has been on the map for some time but when I first start working with Jorge and Jose Mas and David Beckham on Inter Miami Stadium it really put a pin in the map and then with adding Lionel Messi it’s palpable.
‘We’re already seeing that impact. We’ve had folks reach out – the hotels want to be involved, the restaurants want to be involved. There’s local bars and restaurants that host various sports events and they’re reached out to us asking we’d like to be the host bar, can we throw a Messi party? I really can’t go anywhere without the buzz and the excitement.
‘It’s obviously an incredible thing for MLS and Inter Miami. And yes, I think we’re ready!’
But the buzz had started way before Messi even touched down in South Florida with Tim Petrillo, CEO of The Restaurant People, claiming the Argentine has even eclipsed LeBron James.
‘We started seeing impacts when he came to visit Fort Lauderdale after the World Cup, way before it was even announced, on vacation, and there was a buzz that he was even in town,’ Petrillo told DailyMail.com.
‘I’ve been through LeBron coming to South Florida, Shaq coming, all these iconic athletes, which were great but there is nowhere near the impact of an international, global superstar like Messi. There’s a buzz that I have never seen in South Florida around a superstar like this.’
Tim Petrillo, CEO of The Restaurant People, claimed Messi has even eclipsed LeBron James
Messi has been on vacation in the Caribbean with Antonela and their three sons
Petrillo, who is also CEO and co-founder of Urbanstreet Development and is responsible for restaurant hubs including YOLO, O Lounge, and Java & Jam in Fort Lauderdale, revealed that his company is already planning events around the soccer icon.
‘I think we’ll really start to see the impact now he is in town and the parties are starting,’ he said. ‘We’re going to start doing events around the MLS and things like that.’
He added: ‘We’re so lucky because the whole of MLS is now going to be focused on Miami. Apple is going to be pushing the streaming because he gets a piece of that revenue. So it’s going to elevate our community to heights I don’t think people understand yet.
‘People may have heard of Miami or Fort Lauderdale but now he’s the thing that is going to push them to make a visit or take a trip.’
And it’s not just Miami and Fort Lauderdale that will benefit. Messi’s away games are also selling out for through-the-roof prices.
Charlotte FC and Atlanta United have decided to capitalize on the boom by opening the upper levels of their stadiums to allow for full capacity instead of their usual crowds of approximately 30,000 each, according to Front Office Sports.
While Orlando City is reportedly using its home game against Miami to ramp up season ticket sales.
Back in Fort Lauderdale, the demand for tickets has reached such a level the club is expanding DRV PNK Stadium adding around 3,000 extra seats in anticipation of Messi mania.
The club has added around 3,000 seats at DRV PNK Stadium to cope with ticket demand
Stephanie Toothaker, a board member of Fort Lauderdale Downtown Development Authority
Toothaker, who identified the land for Mas and Beckham to build DRV PNK Stadium on, revealed that city officials were going through one last walkthrough Friday afternoon ready to give the expanded ground the green light ahead of Messi’s unveiling Sunday at 7.45pm ET.
‘Being able to add some additional seats really made a big difference because there’s been such an incredible demand,’ she said. ‘But even with that we still couldn’t meet the level of demand.’
Not only is Inter Miami catering for the expected rise in fans, but it is also providing a boost for a local construction company as a consequence.
And it might not stop there. Toothaker said that Messi’s arrival could drive an investment in the land around the stadium too, providing Uptown with a potential boom.
‘The development team are driving around the stadium right now looking for new land,’ she added.
‘The existing area around the stadium is actually industrial, not residential, and that offers a lot of opportunity.
‘I think that creates an enormous amount of opportunity for what it could do for the area. It’s a great area, it just hasn’t seen that level of interest yet. I think you’re definitely going to see a lot of investment.’
While Inter Miami is already taking steps to accommodate the expected boom in attendance at its current stadium, plans for a bigger and better complex are already underway.
DRV PNK Stadium is located in the city of Fort Lauderdale, where the MLS team also trains
Inter Miami owner David Beckham has plans for a new $1 billion ‘Miami Freedom Park’
Beckham and Co. have edged closer to their $1 billion ‘Miami Freedom Park’ which they hope to open in 2025.
The billion-dollar project is said to include a 25,000-seat stadium for the MLS club, a luxury 750-room hotel, a retail center and an office.
And although Messi won’t be gracing the field of the new stadium as soon as his spell with Miami begins, with his deal expected to last for two and a half years, the superstar is likely to be on hand to christen it.
With Messi’s presence at the new ground, Miami’s owners will likely recuperate a chunk of their billion-dollar investment.
The local businesses on the complex – in particular the hotel and shops in the retail center – will be expected to feel the benefit of the match-day goers flooding into the area to get a glimpse of the soccer great.
But the city of Miami won’t even have to wait that long to reap what it’s sown. In fact, Messi has already worked wonders for one South Beach establishment.
‘We’ve already seen some of the impact since his arrival this week,’ President and CEO of the Fort Lauderdale chamber of commerce Dan Linblade told DailyMail.com.
‘There’s the construction impact on the stadium, huge jersey sales, tickets going for a lot more than face value. We also know we’re going to be having people traveling from all over the United States and internationally just to see him play.
‘It’s kind of hard to quantify this early in the game but it’s going to have a dramatic effect.
Fans gathered outside Miami’s DRV PNK Stadium to celebrate Messi’s imminent arrival
CEO of the Fort Lauderdale chamber of commerce Dan Linblade
‘Definitely, over time, it will generate millions from flights, rooms, dining, ticket sales, clothing sales. When people come to Fort Lauderdale, it’s more than Messi, they combine it with cruises, dining and all other sorts of hospitality.
‘The multiplier effect is once they come, they’re going to have to dine, rent cars and all other things that traditionally have always been there but are going to be amplified.’
Messi touched down in Miami on Tuesday and just 24 hours later locals – and rather overenthusiastic fans – had already had their first public sightings of the legend.
The forward and his family, wife Antonela, sons, Thiago, Mateo and Ciro, and father Jorge were spotted leaving Italian restaurant, Cafe Prima Pasta, Wednesday night.
In less than 24 hours, videos of supporters swarming the famous family for photos and autographs were plastered all over social media – including the hotspot’s name. Owner Gerado Ceu also shared a photo of Messi posing with him inside the ristorante’s Secret Back Room.
And just like that the SoFlo staple received the biggest publicity campaign it could ask for – and got it for free.
The following day, Messi went viral when he and his clan were spotted at local supermarket, Publix.
‘The more he engages in the community and becomes a professional athlete in the community, like the Dolphins, Marlins and Panthers, it’s going to have nothing but a positive impact,’ Linblade added.
Meanwhile, Petrillo said that a visit from Messi would elevate any restaurant or bar to unprecedented new heights.
The family was spotted doing its own grocery shop at the local supermarket Thursday
Messi’s glamorous wife Antonela has also been spotted out and about with her husband
Messi looked like any other shopper walking down the aisles of the supermarket with family
‘From a branding perspective it’s phenomenal,’ he said. ‘You have elevated to not just South Florida heights but to an international level because everyone is watching him.’
He added that his brand is doing everything they can to receive the ‘blessing’ of hosting Messi.
‘We would be honored,’ he said when asked what it would mean for Messi to visit one of his establishments. ‘We would market the hell out of it. It would be a blessing for us and we’re going to try like heck to get him in here. We’ll work every angle.’
Elsewhere, murals have popped up on the sides of various buildings across the city, including restaurants, making them instant must-visit spots for tourists, who might even pop in for a bite.
Messi’s arrival has also impacted breweries like Prison Pals Brewing Co., which sells a beer bearing Messi’s number 10. The can is painted pink with black lettering, a replica of Inter Miami’s colors.
The Argentine grill The Knife offers a Messi mojito and the Hard Rock Cafe is launching a new ‘Messi Chicken Sandwich’ made from the soccer star’s favorite ‘milanesas.’ Messi t-shirts, pants, sweatshirts with a hood and water bottles will also be for sale.
‘Messi will add another layer as to why Miami and Fort Lauderdale are on the global stage as a community that is on the rise,’ said Petrillo. ‘It’s going to put our community on the map. I mean the guy walks in the grocery store and its a global news cycle!’
Messi’s influencer activity likely won’t stop there. With Miami already a hotspot for celebrities, the city has plenty of luxurious venues to offer up ready to receive the Messi treatment, even a number of Argentinian ones where he could feel right at home.
Messi dined at Cafe Prima Pasta on Wednesday nigth (pictured with owner Gerado Ceu)
The soccer superstar was swarmed by supporters looking for photos as he made for his car
With an estimated 100,000 Argentinians living in Florida, specifically in the Miami-Dade and Fort Lauderdale areas, according to data from the US Census Bureau and projections from the Pew Research Center, Messi won’t feel out of place.
In Miami Beach, there’s even a ‘Little Argentina’ neighborhood in North Beach filled with authentic restaurants where Argentinian ex-pats celebrated the nation’s World Cup win last year, according to The New York Post.
Argentina’s World Cup hero and his wife could visit the neighborhood and are even reportedly expected to attract Argentine brands to the area.
Meanwhile, Messi is no stranger to the Miami real estate scene. According to Spanish outlet Cadena Ser, the World Cup winner bought a $9 million Miami apartment in the Porsche Design Tower all the way back in 2019.
The Porsche Design Tower, which was built in 2017, is situated between Bal Harbour and Aventura and is located 25 minutes away from the Inter Miami stadium.
But, according to The Post, it is unlikely that the family will reside in the high riser as, with three children, they are believed to prefer a house.
That means the Messi family could be ready to go house hunting, setting Miami real estate ablaze.
Messi’s building overlooks Sunny Isle Beach and the city of Miami, as well as the beach
The luxurious apartment has its own private restaurant, an outdoor lounge that faces the sea
A view of the car-lifts during the Grand Opening Event of the Porsche Design Tower Miami
A general view during the Grand Opening of the Porsche Design Tower, Messi’s new home
His friend and former international teammate Sergio Aguero reportedly lives in Hollywood, Miami after he and his girlfriend Sofia Calzetti bought a $15 million waterfront mansion.
Other stars have splashed the cash for the luxurious properties in the area with Tom Brady and ex-wife Gisele Bundchen spending $17 million on constructing a mansion in Billionaire Bunker, until the supermodel paid $11 million for a property across the water following their divorce.
With the Messis expected to follow Bundchen and Brady, and Shakira in sending their brood to the same school, they could equally look to inject Miami’s real estate scene with millions like their fellow A-Listers.
It’s clear that the soccer player is the greatest superstar to grace the beaches of Miami and Fort Lauderdale and there’s is no escaping Messi mania, but if the past week is anything to go by, they probably don’t want to.