A theme park carrying Barcelona star Lionel Messi’s name is to launch in China, it has been confirmed.
The Messi Experience Park (MEP) will open in Nanjing in early 2019 and will boast over 20 attractions that will “enable visitors to immerse themselves [in] all things Messi.”
Technology will have a key role in the project, submerging visitors in “Messi’s universe” and combining the latest generation of attractions with spaces to practice football.
The park will use virtual and augmented reality to re-run highlights of the Argentina international’s career and take people through training sessions with a “Virtual Reality Messi.”
Chinese company Phoenix Group and Grupo Mediapro are working with Leo Messi Management to roll out what they have called “the world’s finest” theme park, which has been in development for two years.
A statement read: “The MEP project, which is based around an original concept, features the most cutting-edge technology, enabling visitors to immerse themselves in all things Messi by combining the latest-generation attractions with areas in which to play football and thanks to the very best advances in content and multimedia attractions, all of which come together to create a fine natural environment in which to enjoy the sport.”
The MEP’s attractions will spread across 46,000m2 of indoor space, while there will also be 12,000m2 of garden game areas and 25,000m2 of public space.
Messi, the statement added, “will bring his knowledge and the excellence gained throughout his extensive professional career, as well as his massive potential and international standing to the MEP.”
A source working on the project told ESPN FC that as well as a number of football-based installations there will also be other attractions.
It is unlikely the other attractions will be rollercoasters, although what they will be has still not been defined.
“The MEP will be a place where families in China — and visitors from all around the world — can spend the day in an idyllic environment and take advantage of the facilities to practice and enjoy football via a range of different installations,” the source said.
Speaking at the launch in Beijing, Messi told reporters: “I hope to provide [the visitors with an] experience they’ve never had before and to inspire them to pick up the sport early on. Hopefully, they will feel that I am around when visiting the park.”
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.