This past July, Lionel Messi made waves when he left nearly two decades of playing soccer – football to most of the world – in Europe and took the field for Inter Miami CF. Having played on the sport’s biggest stages and in its biggest venues, Messi will now call Ft. Lauderdale’s modest DRV PNK Stadium home. We dove into the data for the venue in order to take a closer look at how Messi’s arrival stateside has already impacted visitation to Inter Miami’s matches.
Football Meets Foot Traffic
Messi’s move has brought a significant boost to Inter Miami’s DRV PNK Stadium. On July 16th, 2023 Messi arrived at the venue for a special welcome event to the excitement of the hometown crowd and international media – providing the stadium with its largest visit spike of the year. Since then, Messi’s presence on the pitch has drawn sell-out crowds to Inter Miami’s home matches.
Compared to DRV PNK Stadium’s daily average visits from January to August 2023, matchdays with Messi on the roster have seen foot traffic spikes well above all previous Inter Miami home games this season – and all other events at the stadium, too.
In anticipation of Messi’s arrival, DRV PNK Stadium added new seating areas to accommodate the fan following of the high-profile athlete until a new, larger stadium can be built. In the interim, it appears that the venue’s decision to expand DRV PNK’s visitor capacity has paid off and fans eager to catch a glimpse of the superstar are filling the stands.
Football Far From Home
Diving deeper into the location analytics for DRV PNK Stadium revealed that fans aren’t just filling the venue. Since Messi’s mid-July 2023 arrival, they’re also traveling further to see Messi play.
Between July 15th and August 31st 2023, Inter Miami’s DRV PNK Stadium had a greater share of visitors who lived 10-30 miles and over 50 miles away when compared to the same period the previous year. This indicates that more attendees from nearby big cities within a 30-mile radius – like Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, and Miami – are traveling to games at the stadium in Ft. Lauderdale. It also appears that a larger share of fans outside of South Florida are making the trip, which suggests that Messi has expanded Inter Miami’s fandom to new markets.
Messi’s impact on South Florida sports is only just beginning. Inter Miami’s management is already weighing the possibility of the club playing some upcoming games at the larger Hard Rock Stadium – home of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins – in order to accommodate a growing fanbase. Messi’s Miami move also has the potential to pave the way for more European superstars to join Major League Soccer in North America, which could boost attendance figures for the sport nationwide.
For updates and more data-driven foot traffic insights, visit Placer.ai.