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Hokkaido Ballpark, the organisation specifically set up to prepare Nippon-Ham Fighters’ move to their new home in Kita Hiroshima, has commenced discussion with the city. The organisation consists of the baseball team, namely the Fighters, their parent company NH Foods Ltd, and the mega advertising agency, Dentsu, and was set up in March to prepare for and ensure that the team’s new ballpark will be developed and ready in time.

The ballpark is scheduled to open in 2023, and the construction plan as well as the timeframe for the city’s new transport infrastructure to complete will be put together in the coming months.

Mainichi Shimbun has reported Kaname Fukuda, the president of Hokkaido Ballpark, and Kita Hiroshima Mayor Masami Ueno both attended the first official meeting, and agreed that agendas such as the construction schedule for the new ballpark, the more detailed timeframe for the development of a new public transport infrastructure including roads and train lines, and how the city should be developed using the ballpark’s presence will be discussed and decisions will be made in upcoming meetings.

The Fighters announced in March that they have decided to build a new ballpark in the city of Kita Hiroshima, one of the neighbouring cities of Sapporo, their current home city and the capital of Hokkaido, and relocate themselves to their new home. Sapporo also expressed their intention to continue to be the team’s hometown offering the inner-city Makomanai Park as the potential site for the new ballpark.

The Fighters last year revealed they were considering a move out of their team’s current home stadium since 2004, Sapporo Dome, after they came to a conclusion that their current home stadium was not ideal for the team’s progress. Sapporo Dome, run and managed by a firm heavily invested by the city of Sapporo, charge the team approximately £8.7m annually for venue use while any extra income from the stadium-related sponsorship is also collected by the city. The Dome also is the home stadium of the J-League football club, Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo, as the pitch and seating specification is interchangeable.

Kita Hiroshima, on the other hand, invited the team to consider moving in from the early stage, and also expressed their support for the new ballpark by suggesting that the property tax for the new ballpark will be waived.

The next meeting will be held on May 29, and further discussions will take place every two or three months, during which whether the masterplan will be ready before the end of this year will be determined.

The new ballpark will cost the team approximately £333m, and will boast a capacity of 30,000 to 35,000.

Images: Nippon-Ham Fighters