MADRID — As any soccer fan can tell you, the recent impact that China has had on the international game is profound. With some of the biggest names in the game having gone east to ply their trade, and more rumored to join them, the Beautiful Game has grown exponentially in popularity in one of the world’s fastest expanding markets.
China’s Phoenix Group and Spain’s Mediapro Group will be looking to capitalize on that popularity boom by attaching one of the biggest names in the history of the sport to their new project, the Messi Experience Park (MEP). The soccer-themed park will be located in Naijing China and offer visitors an gateway to “all things Messi,” according to the partners.
The park will feature more than 20 attractions in a 150,000 square-foot indoor facility. Additionally, there will be 40,000 square-feet of playing fields and 82,000 square-feet of public space. Messi Experience Park is set to open in early 2019. There will be attractions for all ages taking advantage of virtual reality and artificial intelligence technologies to offer experiences related to soccer, as well as extensive information about the career of one of the sports greatest mega-starts. Additionally, the park will look to continue the growth in popularity of soccer in the Asian nation.
With Disney opening it’s first Chinese theme park last year and Wanda Group having committed to continuing to add to its $30B worth of parks across the country in the coming years, the partners are looking to add to a supply of on site entertainment for which there is clear demand.
Leo Messi Management, as the name implies, focuses on managing and exploiting the image rights of the Barcelona forward, along with a host of other professional athletes. Of the venture, the 4 time Ballon d’Or winner said “I am grateful that they thought of me. I am surprised at the incredible scope of the project. I hope that the Chinese people really enjoy it.”
The project has been under development for more than two years, receiving additional support from the Sancel Group, as well as designers from Catalan firm Daw Office.
Publicly traded, Phoenix Group, a Chinese broadcaster, currently airs their six channels in over 180 countries and regions, and is a primary source of Chinese media for ex-pats living abroad. With domestic services on mainland China and Hong Kong alike, it focuses on sports and culture. The partnership marks a continuation of its efforts at diversification.
Mediapro has helped develop the Fútbol Club Barcelona Museum, the Real Madrid Museum, the Ferrari Land Gallery (Port Aventura), the AC Milan Museum and the Brazilian Confederation of Football Museum. It is the experience gained on these and other projects that Mediapro will be looking to implement on the new and ambitious venture.