Now it's Messi, not Taylor Swift, driving up ticket prices at Soldier Field

To a lot of soccer fans, it's a dream come true.

And dreams can come at a cost.

For a chance to see soccer superstar Lionel Messi and Inter Miami FC play the Chicago Fire on Oct. 4 at Soldier Field, Lake County resident Riley Milowski bought a pair of 400-level seats — fourth row, just left of midfield — for $776.

A huge “futbol” fan, she said, particularly of Barcelona FC, one of Messi's former teams, Milowski pulled the trigger before ticket prices rose even higher or the match sold out.

Maybe that'll happen. Maybe it won't. She's in, and she's happy.

“I'm just going to see (Sergio) Busquets, (Jordi) Alba and Messi go play. It's been a dream of mine,” Milowski said.

A dream similar in cost to Taylor Swift's sold-out three-night stand at Soldier Field in June, where ticket prices climbed into the thousands of dollars.

In the soccer world, Messi is an international phenomenon. The Argentine has won the Ballon d'Or award a record seven times as the sport's player of the year.

Within 24 hours of the 36-year-old forward's July 15 signing with Miami's Major League Soccer affiliate — whose president and co-owner is former soccer darling David Beckham — about 12,000 tickets were sold for the Oct. 4 match, a Fire spokesperson said.

That in itself is more than half the attendance of the 2022 season's highest draw to date, around 22,000.

The largest crowd at a regular-season Fire match came in 1998 at around 37,000 people, the Fire spokesperson said. A “friendly” game against Manchester United in 2011 drew about 61,000. Soldier Field's capacity is 61,500.

“We've seen extremely high interest for this match. We've already seen tickets (sales) in the mid-50,000s for this match. We're moving toward a sellout, so we're all extremely excited,” the spokesperson said last week.

“It's a big deal. Obviously, Messi is a once-in-a-generation talent.”

A seller on the Seat Geek secondary ticket vendor site on Sept. 3 offered a fifth-row seat in Section 140, behind the Fire bench, for $5,687, excluding $1,659 in additional fees.

The good news is that, with $1,659 in fees added, a purchaser could pay off that ticket in 12 monthly installments of $1,220.33, at 14.99% interest.

A seller in row 11 of Section 140, however, has a single seat available for $754.

Accessed through the Chicago Fire website on Sept. 3, prices of verified resale tickets ranged from $198 for seats in the 400 Section to $4,400 in the 100 Section not including fees. A couple outliers priced their tickets at $5,000 and $7,500.

There are seats available on Ticketmaster sold through the Fire and more conservatively priced, such as a single third-row ticket in Section 134, near the visitors bench, for $699. There are plenty of seats available in Soldier Field's 200 and 300 sections for under $300.

“We always recommend the best way is to go to the team directly, either or go directly to one of our ticketing representatives (by phone),” the spokesperson said, noting that prices for the Chicago date mirror what is seen with other major-market teams hosting Inter Miami FC.

To handle the interest to fans the Chicago Fire hopes will return to other games, the team opened the 400 level and most of the 300 level. Memberships for the 2024 season start at $25 per match for 100-level seats, the spokesperson said.

McHenry County resident Amber Wishart, a season-ticket holder in Section 117 with her husband, John Belknap, is selling their tickets on Ticketmaster for $600 apiece.

Wishart believes it's a win-win situation.

“We kind of were like, you know what, we're season ticket holders, Lionel Messi is not going anywhere, hopefully, for the next few years. So if we can put our tickets up for resale and help pay for next year's season, we'll see him next season,” she said.

“And if we can't sell them, we'll see a heck of a game.”

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