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‘Messi Mania’ returns: Ticket prices to see the soccer star are still crazy for his season debut

<i>Rich Storry/Getty Images/File</i><br/>Lionel Messi makes his return for MLS team Inter Miami on Wednesday.
Rich Storry/Getty Images/File
Lionel Messi makes his return for MLS team Inter Miami on Wednesday.

By Jordan Valinsky, CNN

New York (CNN) — Lionel Messi’s debut in his first full Major League Soccer season might not cost fans the extraordinary prices seen last year for his first-ever game with Inter Miami, but they do show that “Messi Mania” hasn’t diminished despite his rocky preseason.

The average purchase price for MLS’ first game of the season between Miami and Real Salt Lake on Wednesday night are going for about $185 per seat — 585% more expensive than Inter Miami’s first home game last year (against Montreal without Messi) when tickets cost about $27, according to TickPick.

The cheapest tickets for this year’s first home match are $95 for the match. That’s 1,257% more expensive than the cheapest, or “get in” price of last season’s home opener when it cost $7 for a seat.

Prices on the secondary market are elevated for the rest of Inter Miami’s season with tickets about 70% more expensive than last year. Seats are going for $167 on average compared to $99 last season, TickPick said.

“Given he joined Inter Miami at the tail-end of last season, we expect that ‘Messi Mania’ will still be in full swing to start the season but prices should normalize as we move through the schedule,” Brett Goldberg, co-CEO of TickPick, told CNN.

Messi’s entrance to the MLS is also increasing prices for other teams in the league: The average price of a game this season is $164, which is 124% more expensive than the $73 per seat cost in 2023, according to TickPick.

For StubHub, another secondary ticketing website, sales for the MLS have increased seven fold compared to last year at this time, and it has seen sales for all 29 MLS teams increase this year, showing that Messi is bringing in more fans to the league that has long trailed others like MLB and NHL in popularity.

In particular, Inter Miami sales are 150-times higher compared to the start of last season and is the most in-demand MLS team, with the Los Angeles Galaxy in second and the New England Revolution in third.

“The surge in sales for Inter Miami, and the league as a whole, are a testament to his legacy as a soccer star,” said StubHub spokesperson Adam Budell told CNN. “Messi’s influence extends beyond the confines of his home stadium, driving demand on the road, from buyers all over the world and most especially his native country, Argentina.”

Ticket sales on StubHub are from buyers spanning 44 countries this year, up from nine compared to last season’s start. Argentinians are the second-largest number of buyers after North Americans.

Sales of Messi’s redesigned jersey also remain popular, although they haven’t sold out like last year. Billy Lalor, director of consumer merchandising at, told CNN that sales “are strong as we continue to see high levels of interest” around him, and the retailer expects that his new kit will be “among our top-selling items for 2024.”

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