New York Red Bulls add Lionel Messi clause to ticket deal

The New York Red Bulls' holiday ticket promotion involving next season's home opener has a catch written in the small print: A game against Lionel Messi's Inter Miami CF isn't included.

The Red Bulls distributed an email to consumers on Tuesday offering a two-game "Holiday Pack" that includes next season's home opener and the derby against rival New York City FC. Price per ticket pack ranges from $98 for upper corners/endline, $125 for corner endline/upper sideline, $174 for sideline A/upper center midfield and $495 for club seats.

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But there is an asterisk next to the home opener, and at the bottom of the email the asterisk is explained in small type: "If RBNY plays Inter Miami CF in the home opener, each home opener ticket will be replaced with a ticket to RBNY's 2nd home match."

MLS last year announced its schedule on Dec. 20.

The Red Bulls declined to comment on the promotion, spokesman Zachary Lahey said Wednesday.

A spike in ticket prices and availability when Messi is expected to play isn't wholly a practice of the Red Bulls, with Columbus Crew having announced that it will charge between $382 and $679 for entry into its home game against Miami in 2024. Fans could pay as little as $40 for a ticket to most Crew home games during next year's regular season.

But the Columbus Crew is charging at least $382 for its home game against Miami and $421 and $679 for better seats. In contrast, tickets for ordinary Crew games this year could be had for as little as $40, or less as part of a season ticket package."

Messi, captain of World Cup champion Argentina, joined Miami in July. The 36-year-old attacker scored at the Red Bulls in his MLS debut on Aug. 26, his only goal in six league matches.

The former Barcelona star was injured during his country's 1-0 World Cup qualifying win over Brazil on Tuesday, but he will have plenty of time to recover ahead of his first full season in MLS in 2024.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.