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When the name Lionel Messi pops up, the excitement ramps up. This season has been a mixed bag for the Argentine maestro as despite his rich form, injuries hampered his momentum. Unfortunately, Messi’s absence has coincided with Inter Miami regularly dropping points. However, per coach Tata Martino, the playmaker has put behind the injury worries and will be available for the game against the New England Revolution. Notably, Messi’s presence has resulted in a long-standing MLS record on the verge of being shattered.

Inter Miami’s game against the New England Revolution will be played at the iconic Gilette stadium. With a capacity of 65000, this is one of the largest stadiums in the country. However, it has been confirmed that the tickets have been sold out. This means that the match will set a new attendance record for the Gilette stadium. The previous best came way back in 2002 as 61,316 supporters turned up to watch New England against LA Galaxy.

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Notably, this is not the first time Lionel Messi helped to break an attendance record this campaign. Previously, MLS Matchday 9 had a combined attendance of 366,979 supporters in the stadium. This meant that it became the matchday with the 3rd highest attendance in MLS history! A large chunk of this came from Inter Miami’s game against Sporting KC.

The anticipated match saw 72,610 people turn up at Arrowhead Stadium. Interestingly, Arrowhead Stadium is not even Sporting KC’s preferred stadium. That honor goes to Children’s Mercy Park which has a capacity of 25000. Yet, the switch to the bigger Arrowhead Stadium for 1 match alone shows the influence and popularity of Lionel Messi. However, with that said, let’s take a look at the supposed effect Messi is having in boosting match attendance.

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Did Lionel Messi actually help improve MLS turnouts?

Inter Miami completed the monumental signing of Lionel Messi in July 2023. Following this, MLS announced that it was the best-attended season it was the competition’s history! A staggering 10,900,804 people turned up in the stadiums. The average attendance for a league game last season stood at 22,111. This means an increase of 5% from the total in 2022 (21,033). Moreover, the Herons have also benefitted from Messi’s presence as their average attendance saw a 40% spike from 12, 637 to 17,698. Hence, the ‘Messi effect’ is undeniable.

USA Today via Reuters

Also, the top 3 MLS games with the most spectators did not have Lionel Messi or Inter Miami participating. Last season’s encounter between LA Galaxy and LAFC saw the biggest crowd in MLS history as a whopping 82,110 turned up at Rose Bowl Stadium. If the Herons continue their impressive form and reach the MLS playoffs, there is a possibility that Lionel Messi and Co could topple the attendance record set at Rose Bowl stadium.

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Written by

Adithya Narayanan

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Adithya is a Soccer Writer at EssentiallySports. A Liverpool fanboy, he takes pride in being alive to witness Jurgen Klopp taking the Reds to domestic and European glory. Adithya loves an in-depth soccer chat involving tactical intricacies and stats.
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Edited by

Jayant Chhabra