Soooo sick of soccer...
What Is It:
It made international headlines when it was announced earlier this year — it was called "bizarre" in multiple British tabloids. They're not wrong. One of the world leading football clubs Arsenal FC, has opened a club-themed sports bar and restaurant in the Lyceum Building on The Bund, bequeathing their brand rights in the region to something called "Super Halo Sports Culture Development", who are running the thing. The Google-averse "Super Halo Sports Culture" is purporting to offer guests an "authentic experience of Emirates Stadium" in which to practice their Arsenal devotion, with plans to open another Arsenal Club Beijing in the summer.
Arsenal is the fourth most followed football club in the world among Chinese fans, apparently. Which translates to a lot of people, most assuredly.
This is touted an "immersive experience", then, and Arsenal Club Shanghai indeed hosts various elements that offer guests the opportunity to be immersed in varying degrees of janky-ness, ranging from the aforementioned Lawnmower Man-caliber hologram players at the top of that list...
...to the opportunity to sit in "the actual manager's chair" against a pixelated photo backdrop...
... to the odd signed jersey, of which they managed to muster around three.
It's two floors of smudged vinyl booths, with a more straight-up sports bar on the first floor and a fine dining-ish restaurant plus VIP room for people to really dump out their wallets on the second. The massive televisions everywhere and the digital streaming ticker tape thing overhead imbue the experience with an Off Track Betting sort of vibe. Music is 'THIS IS NOW' 2004 DANCE blaring mercilessly from the stereo. Which is unfortunate.
On menu is beers at Bund prices (55rmb for entry level half pints of Asahi) and then "British classics" like fish and chips to more involved steak dishes for like 250rmb plus. We opted for the pies, because they were the cheapest for 60rmb or so.
Yeah, I don't know soccer but I can try to put it into terms I can understand: All-in, it's kind of like a Hard Rock Cafe, but like a super budget one in a not-very-appealing city. Like a Hard Rock Cafe in Guam that's boasting Sammy Hagar memorabilia as their main thing. It's a very Sammy Hagar's-used-tights-framed-and-on-display-in-Guam immersive experience. Yeah, that's it.