The Chicago Fire know why over 61,000 tickets have been sold for their match against Inter Miami on Wednesday: Lionel Messi.
Messi would normally take the field with Miami in Chicago, but he’s been struggling with injury and fatigue over the past month and may not play. It’s possible Soldier Field could be filled with lots of unhappy fans, or it could be a little empty, when the match begins.
This isn’t an ideal situation for the Fire, but they’re turning it into an opportunity to create new fans. The team announced Tuesday that in recognition of Messi’s possible absence, they’re handing out incentives for season tickets and other items to those who attend the match, no matter who takes the field.
“The Chicago Fire are excited to host Inter Miami CF at Soldier Field this week. While we don’t yet know the official status of Lionel Messi’s availability for our match tomorrow, as there’s never a guarantee that an athlete will play on any given night due to several factors, we understand that many of our fans may be disappointed if they don’t get the chance to see him play. We realize that there will be many in attendance who are coming to a Chicago Fire match at Soldier Field for the first time, and we’re excited to welcome them to the Fire Family and give them an opportunity to become long-term fans by creating a wonderful, fan-focused atmosphere.
“To show our appreciation, the Chicago Fire will be offering a $250 account credit toward new memberships for the 2024 season — or a $50 account credit for anyone unable to use the new member credit — to all single-game ticket buyers who attend our match vs. Inter Miami regardless of which players are able to make an appearance on the pitch.”
The amount of tickets the Fire have sold is a huge increase from their normal home games at Soldier Field. According to the Associated Press, those matches typically average around 14,000 fans, 47,000 fewer than expected at Wednesday’s contest. The team attendance record at Soldier Field is 41,000, set in 1997.
Messi coming to Florida to play for Inter Miami was a massive get for MLS, but a hamstring injury and overall fatigue have caused him to miss the last five matches. The team still has a shot at the playoffs, but there’s no indication if Messi will be able to return this season.