Friday, December 1 2023

The Fire hoping to use the “Messi effect” to their advantage originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Fire’s match against Inter Miami on Wednesday at Soldier Field could have ramifications on whether either team makes the MLS playoffs.

While that’s all well and good, the possibility of getting to see Lionel Messi, arguably the best player in the world, play is the main attraction. It comes as no surprise the Fire announced that the match is sold out.

Messi has had a significant impact on Inter Miami’s results but also on MLS as a league. Wherever he and Inter Miami go, so do the crowds.

Chicago is the latest club to reap the benefits of the Messi effect as soccer fans in the United States flock to the stadiums, hoping to see the former Barcelona star in action.

The sellout crowd presents itself as an opportunity for the Fire going forward.

“They’re all Chicago fans, sports fans. They might not always come to the games but then you have an opportunity where they come out to see one of the best players in the world,” said manager Frank Klopas in his pre-match press conference. “But also it’s an opportunity now for us to showcase the quality of the players that we have.

“It is an opportunity for us to take advantage of a moment like this,” said Fire manager Frank Klopas. And get people that maybe come once or twice a year to games like this, they can just say ‘hey, this was really an exciting game, this is a great team, an exciting game, why not buy season tickets next year?’ Moments like this that you have to take advantage of.”

The Fire have struggled with attendance in their recent history. It was an issue when they were playing home games at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview and it’s been an issue in their short time back at Soldier Field.

The arrival of Lionel Messi has been good for MLS attendance wise. It’s certainly been good for the Fire.

But like Klopas said, it’s an opportunity to get people to come back and make new fans. Only time will tell on the long-term impact of Messi coming to MLS. But what is bound to attract new fans once Messi is gone is simple: winning.

The Fire have a chance to do both those things against Inter Miami.


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