It has been a while since New York City FC signed a player who was already a superstar. When the team began in 2015, they brought players like Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo, and David Villa.
Since then, the club has turned into one that develops stars in Major League Soccer. Valentín Castellanos is the best example, for he now plays in Italy with S.S. Lazio. Plus, it was not a Villa or Lampard that led the team to MLS Cup glory in 2021. Rather, it was Castellanos and others like Alexander Callens, Sean Johnson, and Maxi Moralez.
Of course, it does not mean that bringing in established stars is a bad thing. Look at Inter Miami CF, who brought in Jordi Abla, Sergio Busquets, and the best player in the world, Lionel Messi. The Florida side went from being the worst team in MLS to winning the Leagues Cup with their three new star signings.
It is Messi who is changing the landscape of the league. He is causing others to pay attention and is bringing in new viewers. Hopefully, he will help lead to higher salaries for the players, a larger salary cap, and bring more fans to the league. Ideally, they would not all become Miami fans but become supporters of other teams like NYCFC.
NYCFC and MLS must protect ticket prices
Messi might not play for NYCFC, but supporters of the Pigeons and all other MLS clubs know he is great for the league. However, there is a negative side effect to his signing: tickets are skyrocketing in price.
Now, the Pigeons have already played Miami at home, and will not have to deal with these crazy ticket prices. But when Miami comes to town, home teams are seeing tremendous increases in ticket prices. This is all because of Messi. Even the New York Red Bulls face this conundrum for Saturday’s fixture.
According to CNN, ticket prices at Red Bull Arena are usually around $46. Then, at the time the article was written, the average ticket price to see Messi and Miami take on the New Jersey team was about $483. Overall, the ticket prices have increased by about 1,000% for one game.
When looking at Ticketmaster on Wednesday, the cheapest seat available was $375. Then, there were some seats selling for as much as $10,000. Mostly they are resale tickets, so a person can sell them for as much as they desire. Red Bull fans who already bought tickets prior to the Messi signing do not have this issue. But for fans who were unsure whether they could attend until they were closer, well, the jury is out. Tickets are now extremely unaffordable for many.
As a comparison, the next home match for the Red Bulls will be against Austin FC. Again, as of Wednesday, tickets range from $20 to $310.
It is understandable that the pull of seeing Messi, regardless of whether one supports the home team, is huge. He is the biggest player in the world and one of the best players in soccer history. Prices will increase because of the simple laws of supply and demand. But a 1,000% increase? That is price gouging.
Therefore, when Messi comes to town, NYCFC and all other MLS teams need to ensure that ticket prices are protected, and prices seen for the Red Bulls’ fixture do not occur. One way is to disallow the purchasing of tickets in bulk. Often, individuals purchase multiple tickets and then resell them for higher prices. This is something that happens across sports.
These individuals can be greedy, so another idea is to put a cap on games featuring Messi. MLS can work with third-party vendors like Ticketmaster to ensure resales only increase by a certain percentage. $60 tickets should not cost $500 to $1,000. It is asinine.
Most importantly, teams should not raise their own prices for Miami matches. That would be a disgusting move and an insult to supporters.
It is vital to put a stop to these price increases. Messi will likely be the biggest name to ever play in MLS, but he will not be the last superstar who found success in Europe to make the move. That is why it is vital to keep the ticket prices from skyrocketing. This should not be a trend that continues for years to come in the league.
Soccer is supposed to be affordable. One player should not cause crazy increases in ticket prices. It should not be allowed. New York City FC and the rest of MLS must protect the fans and keep crazy prices out of the game.