New York (CNN) — “Messi mania” has reached the United States, if ticket prices are any indication.
On Wednesday, soccer superstar Lionel Messi said he’s going to join the Major League Soccer club Inter Miami, a blockbuster announcement that shocked the sporting world — more so since it followed rumors of a lucrative deal in Saudi Arabia and reports of a move back to Barcelona, the team that made him famous.
Ticket prices have soared nearly 1,000% for some games, with extraordinary prices rarely seen for MLS games, VividSeats told CNN.
It’s unclear when Messi will make his debut, but sources told the Athletic that his first fixture could be on July 21 during the Leagues Cup between Inter Miami and Mexican team Cruz Azul. A ticket on average costs $1,248 as of Thursday — a 922% increase compared to Monday’s price of $120, according to data from VividSeats.
Prices for in-league MLS games skyrocketed, too. For example, a ticket for the Inter Miami match with New York Red Bulls on August 25 now costs $983 — an 883% increase from Monday’s prices of $99. A fixture between Inter Miami and Los Angeles FC in the California city on September 3 rose 400%, with the average price increasing from $150 to $785.
Of course, buying any of these tickets comes with some risk, since a deal isn’t 100% and the Argentine’s official first match hasn’t been announced. In a statement, MLS welcomed the prospect of Messi playing in the league.
“We are pleased that Lionel Messi has stated that he intends to join Inter Miami and Major League Soccer this summer,” the league said. “Although work remains to finalize a formal agreement, we look forward to welcoming one of the greatest soccer players of all time to our League.”
It’s also a boon for Apple, which broadcasts MLS games on its fledgling TV streaming service. Messi’s deal includes an option for part-ownership of Inter Miami and a cut of revenue from new subscribers to Apple TV’s MLS Season Pass streaming service, according to multiple reports.
Apple recently dropped the price of a soccer subscription to $49 from $99 for the remainder of the season. The company doesn’t disclose viewership figures, but Apple SVP of services Eddy Cue recently said it’s doing “much better than forecasted” for number of subscriptions and viewership numbers.
CNN has reached out to Major League Soccer, Inter Miami, Messi’s representative, Apple and David Beckham, who is part of Inter Miami’s ownership team, to confirm the financial details.
Before landing in Florida, Messi previously played for Paris Saint-Germain, where he went on to win two Ligue 1 titles in his two seasons, but was unable to help the club win the Champions League for the first time in its history. Before his stint with PSG, Messi spent 17 trophy-laden years at Barcelona.