FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – International soccer superstar Lionel Messi is a marketer’s dream.
Not only could he significantly alter the brand equity of both Inter Miami and MLS, but he seems likely to boost the economy in Fort Lauderdale.
Fort Lauderdale City Manager Greg Chavarria told Local 10 News Tuesday that the city is ready to see the growth that comes along with one of the biggest names in the sports world.
“This represents support and positive impact to our economic engine,” he said. “We really like to see our local businesses thrive, from boutiques to mom and pops.”
According to a Fort Lauderdale press release, downtown hotel inventory has grown by 290 percent in the last five years and will look to grow even more after Inter Miami signed one of soccer’s best and most popular players in the history of the sport.
“This is a shining example of what collaboration between government and private enterprise can accomplish. Here in Fort Lauderdale, we continue to build strong partnerships with outstanding organizations to strengthen our economy and create a world-class community. We are extremely excited to have Messi call Fort Lauderdale home and welcome him with open arms,” Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said in a statement.
The owner and staff at Grano De Mostaza restaurant, located on 31st Avenue, about a mile and a half from Messi’s new playground, told Local 10 they’re excited for more customers.
Next door at Vegan On The Go, restaurant owner Tarvarus Osborne says he’s ready for Messi and Inter Miami fans to bring on the new patrons to town.
“This area is going to be a lot more visible. We get a lot more searches through Google that type in “vegan” because of the stadium,” he said. “We’re following the traction and we’re excited about it.”
The city plans to make the most of Fort Lauderdale’s latest attraction, which also highlights the Broward hotspots for newcomers.
But with promises from Miami city leaders to build a new soccer stadium in Miami-Dade County, it’s unclear if the anticipated boost will sustain itself as the team currently plays and practices at the $170 million Fort Lauderdale facility.
“Certainly, while that is being built, and until we know that definitely they will get that ability to build, we invite anyone and everyone to come and experience this stadium that is a state-of-the-art, first class stadium,” said Chavarria.
Until then, Fort Lauderdale is enjoying its time in the international spotlight.
“It puts Fort Lauderdale on the map. There’s more than just Miami. Fort Lauderdale is the geographic center of South Florida,” said Chavarria.