FORT LAUDERDALE — Thousands of fans filled DRV PNK stadium Sunday night, and there wasn’t even an Inter Miami game.
And despite a long delay due to bad weather, international football superstar Lionel Messi and his former Barcelona teammate and new Inter Miami player Sergio Busquets were still officially unveiled at a landmark moment for American football.
“We do it Miami style in the rain,” said Inter Miami co-owner Jorge Mas. “This is holy water.”
— Magic City Soccer (@MagicCitySoccer) July 16, 2023
Co-owners David Beckham, along with Jorge and José Mas, welcomed Busquets on stage for the first time and presented him with the pink jersey No. 5 of Inter Miami.
“I’m very happy to be here in Miami,” said Busquets, who was also celebrating his 35th birthday.
Messi was then introduced with even more spectacular fireworks and a chant of “Messi” from the crowd. A welcome video was shown on the stadium’s scoreboard, in which celebrities such as Tom Brady, Stephen Curry, Mark Anthony and DJ Khaled shared their wishes.
“Please forgive me if I’m feeling a little emotional tonight,” Beckham said. “It is truly a dream come true to welcome Lionel Messi to Inter Miami.
Messi and his family were on stage for only about 10 minutes. They didn’t go all the way to the center circle to avoid the slippery surface, but the Argentine icon also got his new Inter Miami jersey number 10.
“I am very happy that I chose this city with my family, that I chose this project,” Messi said, translated from Spanish into English. “I have no doubt that we will have a good time in Miami.”
Thunder, lightning and heavy rain hit Fort Lauderdale just before 6:00 pm and did not let up until about 7:30 am.
Fans who entered the stadium took cover under the stands, while those who hung out in the square or in the parking lot raced back to their cars. Others, caught at the stadium gates, broke into the stadium without getting through security or scanning tickets.
“The Unveil” was scheduled to start at 6:30 pm with a live performance by musical artists Camilo, Ozuna, Thiago PZK and Paulo Londra. Then Messi and Busquets were to be presented at 20:30.
Instead, the show started around 8:30 pm with a light show, despite the fact that it continued to rain all night. The concert was flipped to the end and the event went straight to the introduction of the star.
Meanwhile, Messi watched his kids play football on his new home pitch while the concert was in progress.
— Sam Sklar (@sklarsam_) July 17, 2023
This night marks the beginning of a new era for American football, with one of the best players now a member of Inter Miami.
Messi and Busquets will be able to make their debut on Friday night at the DRV PNK Stadium for the opening of the League Cup.
But in general, the era of American football before Messi is in the past.