Charlotte FC expects Lionel Messi will play here in October but no guarantees

CHARLOTTE — Charlotte FC’s top executive told CBJ on Wednesday that the MLS team is assuming Lionel Messi will play when Inter Miami CF comes to Bank of America Stadium on Oct. 21 for the season finale for both clubs.

Joe LaBue, Charlotte FC’s team president, said that despite rampant speculation about whether Messi will play on artificial turf neither the league nor Inter Miami have said the world’s biggest soccer star will skip the match because of the field at Bank of America Stadium.

“We’re sort of in a wait-and-see right now whether they think he’s going to play or not,” LaBue said. “There’s been no indication that he’s not going to play.”

Inter Miami’s remaining schedule has two games left against teams with artificial turf fields: Atlanta United FC on Sept. 16 and Charlotte FC. Atlanta United has also said it will not replace the field for Messi and Inter Miami.

BofA Stadium removed its natural grass field two years ago, before the MLS expansion club played its first season. Tepper Sports & Entertainment owns the stadium as well as Charlotte FC and the NFL Carolina Panthers, who also play their home games at BofA Stadium.

Messi joined Inter Miami in July, eight months removed from leading Argentina to the World Cup title. In June, when Messi confirmed his intention to play for Inter Miami, Charlotte FC immediately began selling upper-level seats to the Oct. 21 match.

Fans snapped up 8,000 tickets in a single afternoon, pushing what are typically $15 tickets to $75 and up, based on the fluctuating “dynamic” pricing teams use to adjust rates as demand rises or falls.

LaBue declined to disclose a specific sales figure Wednesday for the Inter Miami match but said tickets are still available.

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