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Messi’s appearance Saturday at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium caps big week for goats in Kansas City

Messi at Arrowhead
Posted at 6:17 PM, Apr 12, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-12 19:17:51-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s already been a big week for goats in Kansas City — beginning Monday with the saga of Chug, the goat who got stuck on the 63rd Street bridge and was reunited Wednesday with his family.

It continues Saturday night when Lionel Messi, who some consider the all-time GOAT of international soccer, and Inter Miami take on Sporting Kansas City at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.

The game will draw the largest crowd in Missouri history for a soccer match with an expected crowd of more than 70,000 fans.

“If you went back and looked at some of the early years, we’ll probably have as many people at this game as we did in a whole season at times,” Sporting KC CEO and KC 2026 Board Member Jake Reid said.

Not quite, but the then-Wizards averaged barely 8,000 fans in 1998 when the team used to play in Arrowhead.

The buzz around Saturday’s match is a testament to how far soccer has come in the Kansas City region — and the Messi game is only the start of a series of high-profile soccer matches coming to town over the next three years, including a U.S. Men’s National Team group-stage match this summer in Copa America 2024 and culminating with the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

“It's been a long time since we've hosted a major soccer game at Arrowhead with 80,000 people almost in the stands,” Joe Reardon, president of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and a KC 2026 board member, said. “I think it's back to Manchester United, which is quite a long time ago.”

Kansas City had better get used to it with even more international matches expected to be announced in the coming years before the World Cup. But it all starts with Messi.

“We're going to see that kind of energy and that level of intensity at Arrowhead when Lionel Messi is here,” Reardon said. “That's the kind of thing that will be here for the World Cup.”

For now, Kansas City will host the best-attended MLS match in Sporting KC’s history with one of the sport’s all-time greats gracing the field.

“The games that Messi has played in the MLS have been electric,” U.S. Soccer CEO and Secretary General JT Batson said. “I've had a chance to be at a number of them, and it's been a ton of fun.”

Messi has four goals and four assists in four matches so far this season with Inter Miami, giving him five goals and six assists in his first 10 MLS contests. He also scored 10 goals in seven Leagues Cup games last summer in leading the Herons to the first cup in club history.

It’s bound to be fun for soccer fans Saturday as Messi plays in the Midwest for the first time.

“Seeing one of the all time greats in the moment, do their thing — there just aren't many moments in life where you get that,” Batson said.

There are a limited number of tickets still available, but Inter Miami at Sporting KC is expected to be a sellout.