Stakeholders discuss Iwagin Stadium expansion plans

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The first-ever committee meeting to discuss potential expansion plans for Iwagin Stadium was recently held in the Japanese city of Morioka, according to Iwate Menkoi Television.

The committee consists of key stakeholders including Iwate Athlete Club, the company that operates the third-tier J3 League football club Iwate Grulla Morioka, as the deadline for submitting stadium expansion plans to meet the J-League Division 2 (J2) entry criteria looms in June 2024. Last week’s meeting was also attended by representatives from Iwate prefecture, the City of Morioka and local business leaders. The committee meetings will be held every month.

Iwagin Stadium, Iwate Grulla Morioka’s home stadium, currently has a capacity of 5,000, which does not meet the stadium-related requirements set out for the J2 club license application. A proposal to increase the capacity must be submitted to the J-League by the June 2024 deadline.

The cost of the extensions is estimated to be JPY4.5bn (£24.7m/€28.7m), and according to a proposal put forward by Iwate Athlete Club, government grants would cover half of the redevelopment cost. The remainder is to be covered by the prefecture, the City, and the private sector, including Iwaki Athlete Club, each putting in JPY840m. After the opening address, the committee meeting was held behind closed doors, with participants asking questions and giving opinions on the stadium expansion proposal.

Following the meeting, Yutaka Akita, president of Iwate Grulla Morioka, said: “Opinions raised included the fact that we have only limited time and whether the proposed redevelopment cost would be sufficient. We are working hard to keep the passion and flair of football going in Iwate, and to do this we need the help of the prefecture, the City and the people of Iwate.”

Councillor Hideo Ogasawara of the Seiyukai group asked questions relating to the expansion of Iwagin Stadium during Morioka City Council’s regular meeting held on June 15. He said: “The estimate for the expansion project is JPY4.5bn, but have you been aware of the stadium issues Iwate Grulla Morioka has had?”

Morioka city mayor, Hiroaki Tanifuji, replied that the stadium is necessary to revitalise the local economy, but hinted that funding the project could be an issue. He added: “Funding for the expansion of the stadium could be a major issue so we need to work together with Iwate Grulla Morioka, the Prefecture and its 32 cities and towns to resolve it.”

The mayor added that a detailed schedule for another committee for the actual stadium expansion project has yet to be decided so he had no comment to make.

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