In 2017, MediaPro Exhibitions, Phoenix Group, and Leo Messi Management announced their plans to invest ¥1.3 billion in the design, development, and construction of a football theme park, based on the famous Argentinian player Lionel Messi. The park, to be named Messi Experience Park (MEP), is scheduled to open by the beginning of 2020 in Nanjing, and from 2023 onwards is expected draw four million visitors per year.
The MEP will cover approximately nine hectares, without counting the hotels and residential areas that will be built around it by other private operators. The area will be divided in 46,000 square metere of indoor spaces, 12,000 for gardens and 25,000 for public spaces. MediaPro will take on 200 direct workers and 300 indirect workers for the design and development of the project. Nanjing was selected with the intention of convert the city in a worldwide touristic center based on sports.
The MEP project, which is based around an original concept, features the most cutting-edge technology enabling visitors to immerse themselves in all Messi-related activities by combining the latest-generation attractions with areas to play soccer like the pro himself. This is all possible thanks to the very best advances in content and multimedia attractions, all of which come together forming a great natural environment to enjoy the sport.
The park will feature robotic attractions with audiovisual productions, Mixed Reality, Synthetic Characters and Holographic Technology, Performing Arts Event Centre, Gastronomy, Merchandising and a Hotel, High Speed Train link to Shanghai, Inbuilt Metro station to aid transport to the park. Nanjing authorities are planning to build a high-speed rail link between the city and Shanghai, in addition to a new underground metro line connecting the park to the city centre.
The developers said the park aimed to “combine Chinese tradition with modern-day design” to promote a “cross-cultural game which knows no frontiers”. “Football in China is growing exponentially with the support of the authorities and Nanjing is the football capital of the country,” the International Business Times quoted Mediapro Exhibitions head David Xirau as saying.
Jaume Roures, president of MediaPro group explained, “The idea is that visitors will want to spend the whole day here. The project started as a museum, but over time, after seeing the ambition of the partners and the Nanjing authorities, we saw that we needed to make it for all ages. Young people don’t go to museums. They want other experiences and we are offering them that.” A large team of designers are working on the project, including the Catalan architecture firm DAW Office.