Spanish football club Real Madrid will help to place Hengqin Island on the world map, following their announcement that they will reserve a space on the island in order to install a club-related virtual reality attraction in partnership with Hong Kong developer Lai Sun Group.
Lai Sun Group’s vice president Larry Leung provided details about the project to Reuters, confirming that a deal has been in negotiation since May 2016. The Administrative Committee of the Hengqin New Area of Zhuhai had published information that the Spanish club was one of the 20,000 companies that had been registered in the area, with an investment that totaled RMB921 billion.
Luo Jianwei, the area’s liaison official of the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office, said that an airplane leasing company from Russia as well as Real Madrid were preparing to settle on the island, hinting at the possibility of the club opening a training school [Football Academy] or a souvenir store there.
Luo added, “China attaches great importance to football development; Real Madrid has a lot of fans on the Chinese mainland. There will be great opportunities for the club to set up a training school or a souvenir sales center in Hengqin.”
The project will be comprised of a 12,000 square meter attraction featuring virtual reality entertainment and a museum showcasing the team’s history as well as a merchandising shop and a restaurant. According to Real Madrid, it will be ready for operation in 2021.
As cited by the UK’s Global Construction Review (GCR), the development, costing approximately USD760 million, will be part of the first phase of Lai Sun’s USD2.7 billion project – the “Novotown”, a cultural and entertainment complex, which has been 70 percent completed.
When all five phases are completed, the area will include several attractions based on world brands such as National Geographic and film studio Lionsgate, as well as a hotel under the Hyatt Regency brand.
The formal agreement between the Spanish football club and Lai Sun Group took place earlier this month in Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu stadium in the presence of Real Madrid’s director of Institutional Relations, Emilio Butragueño, and former players Raúl González and Roberto Carlos. Representatives from Hong Kong included the president of Lai Sun Group Peter Lam,, the director of the Novotown Project John Tse, as well as the director general of the National Tourism Administration in China, Zhang Zhiyun.
Butragueño said that through the agreement “we will be even closer to our fans in China,” adding that, “our vocation is always to share the experience of belonging to this club. Today, we are happy because we present an agreement that will allow us to be even closer to a great country like China, a place with which we have had a great emotional bond for a long time.” RM