South Florida Developers Capitalize on Messi Mania

September 24, 2023

In a recent turn of events, the sales center at Oasis Hallandale witnessed two enthusiastic prospective buyers who arrived clad in Lionel Messi attire, right down to their vibrant pink shoes. The outcome? They promptly signed contracts to acquire condominiums. These buyers, who journeyed from Naples, were particularly drawn to the condo development’s strategic proximity to Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens and Drive Pink Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, where Inter Miami frequently graces the field. Miami, one of the 16 cities set to host FIFA World Cup matches in 2026, with several scheduled to be played at the renowned Hard Rock Stadium, further adds to the allure.

Norma Campos, the sales director, emphasized the growing focus on soccer, given its immense popularity in Latin America. She pointed out that one of the buyers had attended the last seven World Cups, underscoring the deep passion for the sport.

This phenomenon is aptly labeled as “Messi fever,” as new condominium projects strategically target marketing efforts towards soccer and Lionel Messi enthusiasts. The Oasis project, a sprawling 500-unit condo development underway at 1000 East Hallandale Beach Boulevard, is deliberately appealing to Messi fanatics. The project’s developer, Giuseppe Iadisernia, has even featured Messi in a recent advertorial within the pages of a Mexican magazine titled “High & Beyond.”

Lionel Messi, a celebrated World Cup champion, made headlines when he joined Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami team in July. This month, he solidified his presence in South Florida by acquiring a luxurious waterfront mansion in Fort Lauderdale’s Bay Colony.

Undoubtedly, Messi’s arrival in South Florida has sparked an unprecedented frenzy, and the question arises: how does this translate into real estate sales?

According to developers and brokers, Messi’s presence significantly contributes to the appeal of properties, mainly as sales teams increasingly target buyers hailing from Mexico and various Latin American countries. Notably, there’s been a surge of interest from countries such as Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, and Chile. While Miami has historically been referred to as the “capital of South America,” this distinction somewhat waned during the pandemic.

Camilo Miguel Jr., CEO of Mast Capital, acknowledged that his company isn’t directly engaged in soccer-related marketing. Still, they indirectly benefit from Messi’s presence in South Florida and the anticipation surrounding the World Cup and other high-profile events such as Formula One. Mast Capital’s portfolio includes the forthcoming Cipriani Residences in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood. Miguel aptly described Messi’s arrival as “adding fuel to an already fire.”

Graco Funes, a mortgage lender dividing his time between Chicago and Miami, attested to Oasis Hallandale’s appealing location. He is acquiring a unit in the project due to its proximity to Hard Rock Stadium and Drive Pink. Funes is an avid Inter Miami season ticket holder and a devoted Formula One enthusiast. He pointed out that several of his newfound friends decided to invest in the project solely due to the “Messi factor.”

Alicia Cervera Lamadrid, Managing Partner of Cervera Real Estate, emphasized the ongoing dialogue about Messi’s impact, particularly as they anticipate completing two developments—Gale in downtown Miami and 72 Park in Miami Beach. The latter, located in North Beach, aligns with a sizable Argentinian community, given Messi’s roots in Rosario, Argentina, northwest of Buenos Aires. She characterized Messi as “the gift that keeps on giving,” noting that Miami garners international attention every time he takes to the field.

Though quantifying Messi’s direct influence on new condo developments remains challenging, Edgardo Defortuna, CEO of Fortune International Group, highlighted Inter Miami’s substantial growth on Instagram—from approximately 1 million followers before Messi’s arrival to over 15 million. Such exposure carries significant weight.

On a smaller scale, Defortuna’s firm strategically targets soccer players as potential buyers, recognizing their economic influence. A notable example is Sergio Busquets, Messi’s longtime teammate, who recently acquired a waterfront home in Sea Ranch Lakes, closely followed by Messi’s purchase of a neighboring waterfront estate.

Kevin Venger, a member of the team developing the Major Food Group-branded Villa Miami condo tower in Edgewater, shared that their sales team is actively engaging with athletes from various professional sports, including soccer, football, and basketball.

Venger also played a part in the development of One Thousand Museum in downtown Miami, where Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham owns a unit, and Regalia in Sunny Isles Beach, where Messi’s family invested in a condo last year.

Lionel Messi’s affinity for Miami has been apparent for several years. In 2019, he acquired three oceanfront condos, including a Dezer Development’s Porsche Design Tower unit. At that time, whether he would play professionally in Miami was uncertain. This year, Messi declined a lucrative offer from Saudi Arabia, instead opting for his deal with Inter Miami, a team led by Miami entrepreneurs Jorge and José Mas, which, on paper, may be less lucrative but offers a unique quality of life.

In the words of Alicia Cervera Lamadrid, Messi’s decision to relocate to South Florida transcends soccer. He chose to reside here and play soccer, endorsing the region’s exceptional quality of life.


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