An immersive football dome at Bluewater shopping centre has officially opened, welcoming over 1,000 footie fans during its opening weekend.

Ballerz, a multimillion-pound, 30,000-square-foot dome, combines training, gaming, and entertainment with advanced pro pitch technology and immersive effects.

The launch event featured a high-profile Battle of the Ballerz football tournament on May 16, where big names from football, music, and entertainment got to test out the pitch.

The dome was developed by a team of sports and hospitality specialists, including former professional footballers Rio Ferdinand, Bobby Zamora, Roberto Carlos, and Mark Noble.

Ballerz’s football founders took to the pitch with former England player Joe Cole, professional freestyler Harriet Pavlou and Wolves manager Gary O’Neil.

Other players included members of the Charlton Athletic squad, former City centre-back Joleon Lescott, DJ Joel Corry, DJ Mark Knight, and many others from the entertainment and sports industry.

News Shopper: The tech-loaded 5G Ballerz pitch The tech-loaded 5G Ballerz pitch (Image: Jeff Spicer/PA Media Assignments)

The venue fully opened to the public on May 18 and offers a stadium-like experience complete with a tunnel and walkout area, FX lighting, real-time crowd noises, and easily sharable goal highlights.

The dome's main feature is its 6-a-side stadium pitch, but it also includes a SkillZone, where players can take on seven football fitness games that test their technical, physical, and mental skills.

Performance is tracked using Ballerz QR wristbands, allowing players to challenge their personal bests and compete against scores set by football icons.

Rio Ferdinand said: “We’ve developed a tech-loaded pitch and immersive atmosphere for those who love to play and watch the beautiful game.

"There are loads of unique touches that are creating a space to socialise, compete and have fun.”

Parker Howard, the Director of Experience and Technology at Ballerz, said: "Our goal was to pioneer a unique concept by introducing a football entertainment venue housed within our air dome - featuring a mini football stadium loaded with cutting-edge tech and a digitally enhanced competitive social SkillZone.

"We were particularly focused on ensuring that people of all ages and skill levels could experience that very same feeling of their idols playing under the lights in a Champions League match.

“This required crafting an immersive experience around playing football, complete with pro dressing rooms, LED tunnel and walk-outs onto our 5G pitch, real-time crowd ambiance and reactions, dynamic stadium lighting, and instant match highlights shareable to socials at the final whistle. Making memories and capturing them is a central ethos within the Ballerz DNA."

Local grassroots youth teams had the chance to test the 5G pitch, designed to enhance training and gameplay with cutting-edge technology.

Ballerz is also set to host big match screenings in the dome, starting with this weekend’s FA Cup final and continuing throughout the Euros. Fans can book spaces to enjoy the matches with top-tier hospitality.

James Waugh, Centre Director at Bluewater, said: “Since the concept for Ballerz was created, we have been eagerly anticipating the official opening.

“The Ballerz dome has surpassed our own expectations, and it truly brings something totally unique to Bluewater.

“Our guests were excited when bookings opened and we have no doubt that they’ll be delighted on their first visits.”