As part of China’s state-supported effort to become a player on the global soccer stage, Chinese investors have been making moves, such as buying shares in internationally renowned teams like AC Milan and shelling out insanely high transfer fees for global soccer superstars like Carlos Tevez. While the Chinese Super League couldn’t manage to get the world’s best in Lionel Messi (one team, Hebei China Fortune reportedly offered 500 million euros for the Barcelona star), they’ve settled for the next best thing. The Messi Experience Park, a theme park that allows visitors to “immerse themselves in the universe of Messi,” is set to open in Nanjing, China in early 2019.
Messi was in Beijing yesterday to announce the launch of the park, which has been in development for two years, according to a press release from Grupo Mediapro, a Spanish marketing firm that’s partnering with the Chinese company Phoenix Group and Messi’s management agency on the project.
“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,” Messi told reporters, per ESPN. “Hopefully, they will feel that I am around when visiting the park.”
The press release is as boring as the man for whom the park is named, touting “indoor and outdoor spaces” that combine the “latest-generation attractions with areas in which to play football and thanks to the very best advances in content and multimedia attractions” to create “a fine natural environment in which to enjoy the sport.”
If that wasn’t dull enough, ESPN reported that there will be non-football based installations, but “it is unlikely the other attractions will be rollercoasters.”