New Stadium in Niigata

» 11 July 2009 » In international baseball, sports business »

As one of our readers brought up, Hard Off Eco Stadium opened on July 7th (Japan time) with a two-game series between the Hanshin Tigers and the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. This stadium had its challenges in reaching to the point of being able to host an NPB game. The construction of the stadium was been delayed by the World Cup co-hosted by Japan and South Korea in 2002 and an earthquake hitting the region in 2004.

The stadium includes an artificial turf field, an indoor practice facility (a much needed indoor bullpen as the weather can be chilly in Niigata), lights for night games, and 30,000 seats in the stands making Hard Off Eco Stadium the biggest baseball stadium in the state.

Many generations will benefit from the new stadium as not only professional games will be played here, but independent league games, high school tournaments, sports festivals are currently scheduled to be hosted at the stadium over the next three months.  Even though risks are involved in a new stadium, structuring a high class stadium in a sports-deprived region should create some buzz and lead to new opportunities for the city.

People will be able to attend a stadium tour taking place four times a day for free, which is a great opportunity to see behind the scenes and the structure of the new stadium. A blog is updated frequently for further details about the stadium. Also the details about the naming rights can be seen on the Niigata prefecture website.

The stadium’s naming sponsor, HARD OFF Corportation, is a second-hand goods chain founded in Niigata in 1993 that currently has 619 franchises around the nation. The second-hand goods chain is active in different areas with the most well-known probably being BOOK-OFF, which sells used books, CDs, DVDs, and video games. HARD OFF corporation already has a partnership relationship with the hometown J-League team Niigata Albirex as an ecology sponsor, so their interest in expanding to the sports industry in nothing new.

Purchasing the naming rights for the first hometown baseball stadium should benefit the corporation, but the real test of the stadium should be after a couple of years when the buzz is gone, but for now it will be interesting how much impact the stadium will bring to this sports-deprived area of the country.

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