Manchester United have announced plans to open what might best be described as three mini theme parks in China, with club-themed ‘Entertainment and Experience Centres’ to be created in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenyang by the end of 2020.
Touring the country most recently in the summer of 2016, the club claims to have 100m followers in China and each centre will offer ‘interactive attractions’, and ‘immersive experiences’ using state-of-the-art technology to ‘bring Manchester United to life’.
Visitors will be able to ‘experience the thrill of a matchday at Old Trafford’ and learn all about the history of English football’s most famous and successful club. There will also be restaurants and a club retail store, with each proposed site offering a different experience.
The site for the Beijing centre has already been chosen and it will be right in the heart of the city, next to the world famous Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.
United are partnering with Chinese property developer Harves to make the centres a reality.
“We’re very excited to be partnering with Harves on the Manchester United Entertainment and Experience Centres concept, offering our millions of Chinese fans the chance to experience the club in a new and innovative way,” group managing director Richard Arnold said.
“We first visited China in 1975 and we’re proud to have seen our fan base in the region grow and develop their passion for United over the years. This new concept will allow them to get closer to the club they love.”
Harves CEO Bo Zhang added, “Harves is honoured to partner with Manchester United and bring our property development expertise in the creation of these centres.
“They were the first club to broadcast games in China and I can remember setting my alarm to watch the best players in the world play. Manchester United was also the first to tour China and the first to host fan events in the country. But they are so much more than a football club. They are always striving for excellence in the way they approach life.
“We are excited to bring the rituals and emotions of the Manchester United experience to the youth in China, capturing what it feels like to be a member of this elite club.
“Rooted in its unique approach to training, its storied legacy and leadership, and its status as the most successful club in the world, we will create a fully immersive experience that entertains, educates, and inspires the next generation of football fans.”