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Nanjing's Messi theme park to open in 2020

Sports2017-10-07

New images and details of China's Lionel Messi-themed park were released this week in Barcelona, bringing the chance to experience playing side-by-side with the superstar one step closer to fans. The project, called Messi Experience Park (MEP), was first launched in June 2017 by Spain’s Mediapro Exhibitions in collaboration with Chinese media company Phoenix Group and Lionel Messi Management. It’s slated to open in 2020 in Nanjing, in east China’s Jiangsu Province. Rendering of Messi Experience Park, opening in 2020. MEP started out as a museum; however, “as time went on, after seeing our partner and the Nanjing authorities' ambition, we saw that it needed to be bigger,” Mediapro chief David Xirau was quoted as saying by Goal.com at this week’s launch event in Barcelona. “In China, football is growing at an exponential rate, encouraged by the authorities. Nanjing is a football capital here. It is a China-scale project, very big. It is around 80,000 square meters, most of which will be inside for weather reasons,” he added. The park's size is matched with an equally large price tag. With an investment of 170 million euros (199 million US dollars), it’s said to be the world’s biggest theme park dedicated to "the beautiful game." “It will be a tribute to football, not a space for self-promotion,” Xirau said. Nevertheless, visitors will be immersed in the world of Messi, learning about his life in Rosario, Argentina and his ascension to superstardom. The park will feature robotic attractions, holograms, and virtual and augmented reality. More than 20 attractions will be spread out over the space, which includes an indoor area, outdoor garden and public spaces. A high-speed train linking the park to Shanghai is also in the works. Xiaru said he expects four to five million visitors per year, with the majority coming from the Chinese mainland. The ticket price has not been set, but should be around 40 US dollars, Xiaru said, similar to the price of Disney Shanghai. During a trip to Nanjing this summer, Messi, the five-time World Player of the Year, laid out his vision for the park and what he hopes will be an inspiration to the youth. “I hope to provide them the experience they 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,” Messi said. His words could not be more in tune with China’s goal for the sport moving forward. The Chinese Ministry of Education in February announced plans to create 50,000 soccer academies by 2025, along with 200 college soccer teams in the future, Xinhua reported. Rendering of Messi Experience Park, opening in 2020. The ministry added that 16,000 staff in China’s schools had received training as part of a nationwide effort to become a world soccer power by 2050. By 2020, the same year MEP is scheduled to open in Nanjing, China plans to have 70,000 soccer pitches and 50 million children and adults playing on them. (CGTN)

New images and details of China's Lionel Messi-themed park were released this week in Barcelona, bringing the chance to experience playing side-by-side with the superstar one step closer to fans.

The project, called Messi Experience Park (MEP), was first launched in June 2017 by Spain’s Mediapro Exhibitions in collaboration with Chinese media company Phoenix Group and Lionel Messi Management. It’s slated to open in 2020 in Nanjing, in east China’s Jiangsu Province.

Rendering of Messi Experience Park, opening in 2020.

Rendering of Messi Experience Park, opening in 2020.

MEP started out as a museum; however, “as time went on, after seeing our partner and the Nanjing authorities' ambition, we saw that it needed to be bigger,” Mediapro chief David Xirau was quoted as saying by Goal.com at this week’s launch event in Barcelona.

“In China, football is growing at an exponential rate, encouraged by the authorities. Nanjing is a football capital here. It is a China-scale project, very big. It is around 80,000 square meters, most of which will be inside for weather reasons,” he added.

The park's size is matched with an equally large price tag. With an investment of 170 million euros (199 million US dollars), it’s said to be the world’s biggest theme park dedicated to "the beautiful game."

“It will be a tribute to football, not a space for self-promotion,” Xirau said.

Nevertheless, visitors will be immersed in the world of Messi, learning about his life in Rosario, Argentina and his ascension to superstardom. The park will feature robotic attractions, holograms, and virtual and augmented reality.

More than 20 attractions will be spread out over the space, which includes an indoor area, outdoor garden and public spaces. A high-speed train linking the park to Shanghai is also in the works.

Xiaru said he expects four to five million visitors per year, with the majority coming from the Chinese mainland.

The ticket price has not been set, but should be around 40 US dollars, Xiaru said, similar to the price of Disney Shanghai.

During a trip to Nanjing this summer, Messi, the five-time World Player of the Year, laid out his vision for the park and what he hopes will be an inspiration to the youth.

“I hope to provide them the experience they 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,” Messi said.

His words could not be more in tune with China’s goal for the sport moving forward. The Chinese Ministry of Education in February announced plans to create 50,000 soccer academies by 2025, along with 200 college soccer teams in the future, Xinhua reported.

 Rendering of Messi Experience Park, opening in 2020.

Rendering of Messi Experience Park, opening in 2020.

The ministry added that 16,000 staff in China’s schools had received training as part of a nationwide effort to become a world soccer power by 2050.

By 2020, the same year MEP is scheduled to open in Nanjing, China plans to have 70,000 soccer pitches and 50 million children and adults playing on them.

(CGTN)

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