Hiratsuka Mayor unsure about new Bellmare stadium project

Images: Shonan Media Stadium/Azusa Sekkei

Images: Shonan Media Stadium/Azusa Sekkei

Katsuhiro Ochiai, the Mayor of Hiratsuka City in Kagawa Prefecture, has stated that it would be “extremely difficult” for the city to provide financial support for a new stadium project proposed by J-League Division 1 (J1) football club Shonan Bellmare.

In May 2023, a proposal for the construction of a new football stadium was submitted to Hiratsuka City with two candidate locations, namely the Hiratsuka City Park Complex which houses Shonan Bellmare’s current home stadium, Lemon Gas Stadium Hiratsuka, and another location nearby. Upon receiving the submission of the proposal, the city responded to the club by saying that the stadium could not be built inside the park complex as described in the proposal.

Then, in August, the city explained to club president Kiyoshi Makabe that the club needs to propose another candidate location outside the park. Bellmare’s supporters’ organisations reacted to the city’s suggestion by submitting a petition signed by more than 50,000 people urging the city to support their stadium project on September 14.

Mayor Ochiai’s latest comments prove that the city’s stance over the new project has not changed, as he admitted while he “understands the strong desire of the supporters”, it would be “extremely difficult for the city to provide support for the project” both financially and in terms of granting permissions for the stadium to be built within the aforementioned park complex.

He said: “Not only in terms of the potential location outside the park, we have also held discussions on the wide range of issues that the new stadium project brings for a long time now. If Bellmare wishes to present us with a new amended proposition, then we will see if and how it is appropriate for the city to be involved”.

The City of Hiratsuka says it has not received a response from Bellmare but according to TeleVision Kanagawa (TVK), Bellmare has prepared an official response to the city’s request for an amended proposal.

In January, Shonan Bellmare announced that it founded a new company, Shonan Media Stadium, solely focusing on the planning and promotion of the stadium project as well as operations of the venue once it is completed. The club is hoping to open the new 20,000-capacity stadium by 2028.

Lemon Gas Stadium Hiratsuka, which opened in 1987 as an athletic stadium, has been home to Shonan Bellmare since 1992 but the J-League has been critical of the venue as the standards of the media and hospitality facilities, as well as the open-air stands, are seen to be much lower than some of the more modern stadia in the country.

Article provided by THE STADIUM HUB