Thunderous cheers and a sea of ​​passionate pink.

This is the scene that the reporter with National Business Daily (NBD) saw at the DRV&PNK Stadium on September 27, local time, when Miami International played against Houston Dynamo in the US Open Cup final.

It was a feast for Lionel Messi, who did not appear on the pitch due to injury. NBD noticed that most of the spectators came for this Argentine soccer star. Besides the hardcore fans, there were also tourists who came from far away, all for a glimpse of his dominance on the field.

In the three days in Miami, the NBD reporter felt the "Messi effect" up close. In the warm Miami, Messi was everywhere. From the airport to the car rental center, from the hotel to the jersey store, from inside to outside the stadium, Messi was always the topic of conversation. He was not only a soccer player, but also a cultural symbol and a business phenomenon.

At 8 p.m. on September 27, the DRV&PNK Stadium was brightly lit and bustling. This was the home of Miami International. On the stands, there was a pink ocean. This was the color of Miami International's home jersey, and also Messi's jersey. Although Messi did not play due to injury, this did not affect the enthusiasm of the fans on site. All 19,100 seats were sold out and there was no vacancy.

"I flew from Israel to watch Messi's game. My ticket cost $1,100." A fan at the scene told NBD.

"I came from Argentina with my family." Another fan volunteered to share with the reporter. "Our two tickets cost a total of $1,600, an average of $800 per person."

If you think that only ticket prices can reflect the strong influence of the "Messi effect", then you are very wrong. Inside and outside the DRV&PNK Stadium, there was another more intuitive, more specific, and more convincing evidence: Messi's jersey.

The 2023-2024 season forecast financial report released by Miami International at the end of August also confirmed this. According to Arseny, the club's chief commercial officer, the team can get about $200 million in revenue just through jerseys and tickets, which is three times more than their total revenue in the previous season.

According to Fanatics, a US media outlet, Messi's No. 10 jersey sales set a sports history record in 24 hours after he joined Miami International. It is worth mentioning that the original record holder for jersey sales within 24 hours after joining a new team was Cristiano Ronaldo.

During halftime, the reporter found in a jersey store that the store was full of dazzling team culture shirts and Messi jerseys. There were no other players' jerseys. The NBD reporter told the clerk that he wanted to buy Busquets' jersey (a Spanish star who joined Miami International and was Messi's teammate at Barcelona), but was told that they only had Messi's jersey. The next day after the game, the reporter came to the largest retail store in the stadium again and still did not find any other players' jerseys for sale.

In terms of price, Messi's jersey pre-tax price reached $129.99 or more. Except for 3XL and 2XL, all other sizes were sold out, showing how popular it was.

People in tourism, catering, accommodation and other industries also have a deep impression of Messi's influence.

When the reporter handled procedures at Sixt car rental company, the front desk staff told him that there were countless fans from South America who came to see Messi. Even most of the tourists who came for sightseeing also hoped to see Messi. Some of them wore Barcelona's Messi jerseys and some wore Argentine flags. However, when the reporter asked about Messi's impact on him, he said: "Business is good, but wages have not risen. The biggest impact is commuting time. It's too congested on game days when I get off work!"

The landlord of Airbnb where the NBD reporter rented also said that after Messi came, he received significantly more fan guests and his monthly rent income increased by 50% compared with before.

In general, Messi's arrival brought unprecedented enthusiasm and attention to Miami. His influence was not only evident on the field, but also extended to various fields such as business and culture. More importantly, he made soccer more popular in the United States.

(Photos by Zheng Yuhang with NBD)

Editor: Billy