• Kyodo

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As the 2002 soccer World Cup fades from memory, officials in charge of running the stadiums that hosted matches during the event are now struggling to find ways to utilize the arenas.

Shizuoka prefectural officials said last week that they will invite representatives from all the World Cup host cities to a nationwide conference Thursday at Ecopa stadium in the city of Fukuroi to share ideas on how to increase income from the structures.

Ten stadiums in Japan were renovated or built from scratch for the World Cup by local governments at considerable cost.

But with many of them in rural locations or lacking a J. League soccer team, opportunities to bring in events and income since the end of the World Cup last June have been few, and many prefectures now find themselves laden with expensive operating costs.

The Sapporo Dome, which is regularly used as second-division team Consadole Sapporo’s home ground and also holds professional baseball games, is one of the few exceptions.

But Ecopa stadium, which is not a home stadium for either Jubilo Iwata or Shimizu S-Pulse — the two J. League teams in the prefecture — is more typical of the struggles the local governments are facing in bringing in cash from the stadiums.

Shizuoka officials have come up with the idea of selling naming rights to the ground, but also said they are considering privatizing the stadium.

“They (companies) may be our rivals, but we are interested in hearing what ideas they have in mind on how to use the stadium,” a top Shizuoka official said, without elaborating.

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