‘Messi mania’ as Miami plays Montreal in player’s first game in Canada

Montreal — Soccer superstar Lionel Messi is expected to make his first professional visit to Canada on Saturday when Inter Miami faces CF Montreal in Major League Soccer action.

The global icon will play the Saputo Stadium, and as of late Friday multiple sections at the 19,619-capacity venue had more than 40 seats remaining (not including resale tickets) and one section had more than 75.

The cheapest ticket available was a single seat at $325, otherwise tickets were priced at $495 and higher, going up to $729. There is no guarantee Messi plays, but the 36-year-old Argentine superstar is healthy and expected to feature in the match.

Click to play video: 'Messi mania hits Montreal as ticket prices surge'

Messi mania hits Montreal as ticket prices surge

“I’m not surprised to see the fact that there are still tickets left a day before the event,” Jonah Presser, director of communications for CF Montreal supporters’ group 1642MTL, said Friday.

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“It shows that CF Montreal overestimated their market in terms of being able to sell out the venue at the prices that they sold the tickets.”

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CF Montreal president Gabriel Gervais said Friday, however, that he expects a sellout come Saturday.

“In normal times, we usually sell a large percentage of individual tickets 48 hours before the match,” Gervais said. “We are confident we’ll see a full house.”

Resale company Vivid Seats said Saturday’s match was trending as the “hottest” Miami ticket this season with an average cost of $465.

Messi — widely considered one of the greatest players of all time — took the North American soccer scene by storm when he left Europe to join Miami last year, filling stadiums despite the astronomical prices wherever he went.

Click to play video: 'World Cup 2022: Argentina fans erupt in joy after Messi leads team to victory'

World Cup 2022: Argentina fans erupt in joy after Messi leads team to victory

In February, two CF Montreal supporters’ groups — 1642MTL and Collectif Impact Montréal — took issue with the rise in ticket prices for the Inter Miami match. The groups stated the club intended to charge $449 plus taxes in the designated supporters’ section, a departure from the usual $30 to $35 pricing.

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“The prices haven’t budged and we’ve said since the beginning that price has been the main detractor for people to be able to come to the game,” Presser said. “It’s not going to change day to day that a normal person is going to have $450 to spend from one day to another unless they win the lottery.”

CF Montreal announced on Jan. 18 that it had sold out 15,000 season tickets — starting at $444 — for the first time since the club joined MLS in 2012. The club then released a six-game bundle — which included Inter Miami’s visit — starting at $750. That package sold out on Feb. 14.

Elsewhere in Canada, tickets start at $329, including taxes and fees, for Miami’s meeting with the Vancouver Whitecaps on May 25. Toronto FC only had resale tickets available on Ticketmaster for Miami’s BMO Field visit on Oct. 5, starting at $333.

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