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El Clásico Miami Shines International Spotlight on South Florida

by | Aug 10, 2017

By Chris Umpierre

MIAMI Staff

Thousands of soccer fans from around the globe flocked to Miami to watch one of the most monumental soccer matches of the year.

Spanish soccer supernovas FC Barcelona and Real Madrid faced off in front of 65,000 fans on July 29 in El Clásico Miami — the teams’ first meeting on U.S. soil and second in history away from Spain.

The highly-anticipated friendly, which included many of the world’s top soccer players like Lionel Messi and Neymar, brought thousands of fans and millions of dollars to South Florida and showcased Miami as an international destination.

The event crystallized what Miami residents already know: Miami is a top-tier, international city with abundant live, work and play opportunities.

Miami, which has hosted the most Super Bowls of any U.S. city, had an incredible July, which is typically a slow time of the year for events. In addition to hosting El Clásico in July, Miami hosted its first-ever Major League Baseball All-Star Game and its annual Swim Week.

El Clásico Miami Broadcast in 170 Countries

Soccer is the world’s most popular sport, and the top sport in South America. According to FIFA’s most recent Big Count survey, there are 265 million players actively involved in soccer around the world, roughly about 4 percent of the world’s population.

Miami, which attracts most of its international home buyers from South America, is the most international city in the United States with 51 percent of its residents foreign-born.

El Clásico Miami at Hard Rock Stadium was part of the annual exhibition club competition called the International Champions Cup (ICC). The tournament began in the United States five years ago but has since expanded to include numerous countries around the globe including China and Singapore.

The ICC currently holds over 65 TV agreements and the tournament is broadcast in over 170 countries and territories worldwide. Global coverage reached over 100 million cumulative TV viewers.

The match’s international impact could also be viewed in its ticket sales. Only 30 percent of the tickets for El Clásico Miami were purchased by South Florida residents. The other 70 percent came from all over the United States, and more than 50 other countries and territories.

Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica and Honduras were the top foreign countries buying the $240-and-up individual tickets. Ticket orders came from as far as Australia, China, Israel, Jordan, New Zealand, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea and United Arab Emirates.

Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela, and all seven Central American countries also bought tickets.

El Clásico Miami’s Super Bowl Impact

Overall, El Clásico is projected to generate between $50 million and $100 million in economic impact, according to ICC forecasting. Locals compared the event to the impact from a Super Bowl.

El Clásico wasn’t just one soccer match. The event had another soccer match between popular French team Paris Saint-Germain and Italian giant Juventus, a free downtown soccer festival, a boxing match in Wynwood and more.

Miami-Dade County's hotel occupancy rate was 91 during El Clásico Miami, according to The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. 

Super Bowl 2020 in Miami

El Clásico Miami sets the stage for Miami’s next showcase. Miami is set to host the most-watched U.S. sporting event: the 2020 Super Bowl.

The Dolphins play in state-of-the-art Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Owner Stephen Ross spent roughly a half billion dollars to modernize the stadium last year. The improvements included a $250 million shaded canopy. The Dolphins’ home stadium has hosted five Super Bowls, America’s most-watched sporting event. Miami will host another Super Bowl in 2020, the NFL announced.

Hard Rock Stadium isn’t just for football. The Brazil men’s national team will play a series of matches at Hard Rock; Real Madrid will visit the stadium in 2017. The stadium is also Miami-Dade County’s only true outdoor concert venue. The stadium plans to host major music festivals and more.

Miami: An Athlete’s Paradise

International home buyers want world-class entertainment, and Miami’s three major sports squads are providing it in new or relatively new venues. The NBA’s Miami Heat, Major League Baseball’s Miami Marlins and NFL’s Miami Dolphins have each won championships and gained international recognition.

Downtown Miami’s resurgence was underway when LeBron James signed with the Miami Heat in 2010, but his team’s success helped encourage residents, business owners and developers to relocate or do more business in Miami.

Today, Downtown Miami has more than doubled its population to 80,000 in the last decade. Realtor.com named Downtown Miami as the nation’s fourth-fastest growing neighborhood. Downtown cultural institutions like the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and the Perez Art Museum are attracting new residents and businesses.

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