'The Lionel Messi Experience' is an interactive showcase of all things Messi

The Lionel Messi Experience promo
(Primo Entertainment)

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the best soccer players of their generation — and maybe any generation — and there really isn’t much separating the two.

Ronaldo has scored more goals, but Messi has won more World Cups. Ronaldo has more Champions League titles, but Messi has more league championships. Ronaldo has his own self-funded museum ... and now Messi has “The Messi Experience: A Dream Come True,” a unique multimedia look at the Argentine’s life and career.

The Los Angeles exhibition, which opens Friday in a 30,000-square-foot studio and event space near where the Glendale and Golden State freeways intersect, takes visitors on an immersive, interactive exploration of everything Messi, from a recreation of his childhood bedroom in his family’s humble home in Rosario, Argentina, through his triumphs with Barcelona and the Argentina national team.

At one point in the exhibition, a phone rings and the speaker on the other end of the line invites the 13-year-old Messi to come to Spain, launching his unparalleled career. In another place the exhibition explores his short-lived and emotional decision to resign from the national team.

“It’s super important that when you learn about his life you know it wasn’t all great,” said David Rosenfeld, co-founder of Primo Entertainment, a Miami-based company that worked with Messi to put the exhibition together. “So he takes you on that roller coaster. The empowerment that we’re trying to show here, especially for kids, is never give up and it could happen. That’s kind of the message.”

The exhibition features nine interactive installations as well as thematic installations and physical games. Rosenfeld said planning for “The Messi Experience” began more than 2 ½ years ago, before the player’s greatest triumph, Argentina’s World Cup win in Qatar in 2022, and before his move to Inter Miami and MLS last summer.

But those events necessarily forced some alterations. The tour opens with a recreation of Argentina’s victory parade through the streets of Buenos Aires while in another room there is a much-larger-than-life replica of the World Cup trophy Messi kissed after Argentina defeated France on penalty kicks.

Read more: Lionel Messi transforms L.A. into a star-studded celebration of soccer

“We would have done it regardless,” Rosenfeld said. “Obviously him winning the World Cup and coming to Miami exponentially helped everything. But he was already Messi.

“We were confident with the fact that he was such a big brand and he was such a big athlete, this was going to be successful.”

Rosenfeld said Messi did not oversee the design of the exhibition nor what’s included, but he did participate in the creation of certain installations and signed off on the project.

“It’s an experience based on his life and his career so he had to have a hand in what’s told, how it’s told,” Rosenfeld said. “He was a big part of it.”

An identical “Messi Experience” opened April 25 in Miami and has drawn more than 50,000 visitors, Rosenfeld said. Another exhibition will open in Buenos Aires next month.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.