Miami did. He took away the great treasure. Not only the most extraordinary jewel of world football but the Holy Grail of universal marketing. The city of the sun is today at the center of the planet and the earthquake at all levels that means the arrival of Lionel Messi places this corner surrounded by sea and palm trees not only as the epicenter of football: Miami is heading to become the world capital of sport and everyone rubs their hands for the millions that will come.
Despite the fact that the city is populated by Latinos, soccer has not yet managed to mobilize the passion it generates in America and Europe. "Ask Miamians and some may not even know there is a local soccer team like Inter," the Miami Herald wrote in an editorial Thursday.
"That's about to change," they say.
Many remember the marketing stir caused by the arrival of Lebron James to the Miami Heat, but today is a much more global phenomenon. Messi is the magic word that opens doors in Turkmenistan, Singapore, Mali, Mongolia or the Faroe Islands.
Furor in Miami for the arrival of Messi. Photo: Giorgio Viera / AFP.
There is no star so marketing that crosses so many borders. Their T-shirts sell for millions with delicate Dry Fit, trout and even improvised with nylon bags. They are used by millionaires and kids with bare feet on the ground. Fact: Messi has 468 million followers on Instagram; Lebron James has "barely" 154 million.
Messi already bought a luxurious apartment years ago in an exclusive tower by the sea in Sunny Isles, north of Miami, although it is not known if he will move there. Celebrities generally prefer houses on one of the islands because they are far from tourists, have more privacy and allow you to escape incognito on a yacht to enjoy the ocean and the sun with tranquility.
The Argentine loves the city, where he has already come several times on vacation with his family. In the Miami world bets are already made with the school they will choose for Thiago, Mateo and Ciro. "Can you imagine being a teammate of a son of Messi?" Kids dream.
Miami is already experiencing the Messi boom. His arrival was announced on the giant screen of the game between the Heat and Denver Nuggets, for the NBA finals. Photo: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports.
"The impact of Lionel Messi's arrival in Miami is tremendous," Daniel Rosenberg, professor of sports management at Barry University in Miami, told Clarín.
As the world's most recognizable soccer star, and after leading Argentina to World Cup triumph, Messi's brand will instantly bring global attention to this city, even more so than when LeBron James signed with the Miami Heat. This is comparable to when Pele left Brazil and signed with the New York Cosmos in 1975. The media attention surrounding the world's most talented player immediately transformed soccer into a high-level commercial sport in the United States."
When the Brazilian star arrived, attendance at Cosmos games climbed from 3,500 to 45,000 two years later.
In a much more globalized marketing world, we have already seen a sign of things to come: sales of the cheapest tickets for Inter's July 21 match against Cruz Azul (it could be Messi's debut) cost $29. At noon, when the rumors of the Argentine's pass were raging, they climbed to 150 and at night they were sold for US $ 544. They'll keep going up, for sure. Those who have bought season tickets have done a great business.
It is ruled out that Messi's pass will be a boost to the clouds for Inter's finances, but it will undoubtedly also mean a significant economic impact for Miami.
The staff of Fiorito restaurant, a Miami classic, next to a mural of Lionel Messi. Photo: AP Photo/Lynne Sladky.
"Not only will match attendance exponentially increase by attracting many more local Argentines and Latin Americans living in Miami, but there will also be a significant increase in soccer tourism with fans traveling from around the world to attend matches, stay in hotels, eat at restaurants and other attractions associated with South Florida. The sale of merchandising with the team's license, especially Messi's jerseys, will increase dramatically as will other sources of income for businesses and concessions around his image," Rosenberg notes.
The expert adds that beyond income, Miami will also boost its image. "In terms of marketing, the presence and recognition of the Messi name and brand will elevate a city that is already international and high-profile to new heights of popularity, particularly among tourists from Latin America and Europe, where football is a passion."
Some of the perspectives that experts are already considering: construction of a new large stadium with greater capacity for an immense demand; inaugurations of football academies; merchandising stores; themed bars and restaurants related to the Messi world or football in general; sports travel agencies, among others.
A happy memory. Messi went on vacation to Miami after winning the Copa America in 2021. Photo: Instagram.
But beyond soccer the city lives an effervescence of sports with the basketball of the Heat and ice hockey of the Panthers, with both teams playing the finals these days.
Tennis is a classic because it is already known that it is a paradise where high-level tennis players live and that it hosts the Miami Open, but now there is a big bet on Formula 1 with the Miami Grand Prix that was launched last year. Rugby is also starting to stomp and a franchise in the city, the Miami Sharks, has just been launched, founded by a group of Argentine investors, including the billionaire owner of Mercado Libre, Marcos Galperín.
"With Messi's arrival I think it would be fair to call Miami the World Capital of Sport. The city is enjoying a sporting renaissance right now. Today all eyes are on Miami," Rosenberg said.
He explains: "It is one of the few American cities that has franchises in the 5 Major Leagues of basketball, baseball, football, ice hockey and football. With global markets for all these sports and internationally recognized stars like Messi, Miami has cemented its reputation as the World Capital of Sport and will attract even more fans and also media attention."
From the United States, correspondent.