Having Generated $120 Million for Inter Miami, Lionel Messi’s Impact Draws Similarities With Dwyane Wade’s Heat Legacy

Dwyane Wade dove into his legacy with the Miami Heat in a unique way in this week’s edition of The Why podcast. Now that he’s retired and residing in California, he believes Inter Miami star Lionel Messi has continued uplifting the local economy in the Magic City. Joining Wade on the podcast was hospitality industry veteran, David Grutman. His old friend is the ideal person to describe how sports teams benefit the local businesses. Across a combined 14 seasons with Miami, Wade has seen how their success goes parallel with the city’s.

The only thing I think has come close to that is this whole Messi in Miami thing,” Wade said, comparing the Miami Heat’s commercial success to what the Argentine’s arrival in the Sunshine State has done. He’s referring to how diehard fans would travel from anywhere to see the Miami Heat in the playoffs and add to the revenue of local hotels and restaurants. And now sports fans do that for Messi.

The proof is in the pudding. Ever since Lionel Messi signed with David Beckham’s Inter Miami, he has not only popularized soccer on this coast but also largely benefited Miami. Even without competing for the MLS Cup, Messi’s impact has made David Beckham’s team a top-earning club bringing in more than $120 million in revenue. Business analysts estimate he could very well break the revenue record this season.

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This is the kind of evidence of success Wade has experienced well. Miami Heat remains one of the top-earning teams in the NBA, leads retail sales, and has been a major revenue generator for the city. Grutman elaborated to Wade how this isn’t limited to popular restaurants and the like.

You know what it drives business to is you have so many playoff games because of you guys. And then you have the finals, and you have this and you have the hype and the buzz. I think it just shines a great light on Miami. And you know an extended basketball season is great when you have restaurants right around the arena.” Numbers further prove Grutman’s statements.

Heat Culture is both inspiring and profitable

The Heat Culture with pillars like Wade, Udonis Haslem, and more is not only inspirational, but it’s also a huge attraction. As Grutman puts it, the Heat’s consistent path towards playoffs and championships helps ticket sales, merch, sponsorships, and broadcasting rights. The team elevates the arena to a premier venue. Add in any sports team’s consistent community engagement, and the image and appeal are further enhanced.

Wade has witnessed it himself. For instance, reports around the time Miami was in the playoffs in 2011 revealed that their arena generated over $53 million in revenue the previous season. It was also named the most profitable team in the NBA. Wade would go on to win his second championship the next year.

Forbes did an evaluation of the team when it renamed the arena as Kaseya Center in 2023. Forbes ranked the team #12 in profits in the league, with a revenue estimated at $371 million. How much of that benefits the county or city is not yet known.

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