A petition to save a Tokyo stadium where New York Yankees legend Babe Ruth once played has been signed by almost 10,000 baseball fans.
Meiji Jingu Stadium opened in 1926 and is one of the few remaining ballparks where Ruth played. The stadium is set to be torn down and rebuilt as part of a wide-ranging development that will include skyscrapers and hotels.
The venue has a capacity of around 37,000 and currently serves as the home of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. In a bid to save the stadium from demolition, almost 10,000 people have signed a petition addressed to Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and other government officials.
The petition was started by Robert Whiting, an author of Japanese baseball books. “The citizens of Tokyo are going to regret it,” he told the Reuters news agency.
“They’re going to lose a really beautiful, quiet, relaxing spot and a great place to watch a baseball game.”
Whiting added: “There are so many things that will be lost and could go wrong if this goes forward. It’s just so sad.”
Reuters noted that while one of the developers behind the project, Mitsui Fudosan, said it was aware of the petition, the decision will ultimately be made by the Tokyo government.
Ruth, who played for the Yankees from 1920 to 1934, played a game at Meiji Jingu Stadium in 1934 as part of the team’s tour of Japan.
The stadium is also said to have inspired acclaimed Japanese author Haruki Murakami to start writing in 1978. Murakami, whose first book Hear the Wind Sing was released the following year, said he was drinking a beer at the stadium when the idea of writing a novel first came to him.