National

National stadium cost soars to ¥252 billion

Kyodo, Staff Report

The government has decided to stick to the ambitious architectural plans for the new National Stadium, with its two signature arches. But the cost is now expected to balloon to ¥252 billion, an increase of roughly ¥80 billion from the last estimate, government sources said Wednesday.

The centerpiece for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was projected last year to cost almost ¥170 billion, including demolition costs for the stadium it replaces.

The overrun raises questions about whether the plan can win support from critics who have been calling for a change in the design by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid.

Construction is expected to begin in October and a deal is likely to be signed with contractors soon, the sources said. The stadium project is to be completed ahead of the Rugby World Cup in 2019.

The government is believed to have judged that changing the design at this stage would incur construction delays, even as criticism mounts that the current plan is too costly and does not fit in with the landscape.

The new stadium will have two massive arches that form the backbone of the roof, a feature that critics have blamed for raising the overall construction costs. The new structure will replace the iconic National Stadium built for the 1964 Summer Olympics, which is currently being demolished.

The central government plans to report its decision to a meeting of organizations currently preparing for the Olympics, including the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the sources said.

So far, the central government has been at odds with the metropolitan government over how to share the costs.

The squabble started last month, when education minister Hakubun Shimomura requested that the metropolitan government foot ¥50 billion of the stadium’s estimated ¥169 billion cost.

Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe fired back on June 5, saying that this would violate the Local Government Financial Act, which prohibits municipalities from bearing the cost of building national facilities. He did allow that Tokyo could bear the ¥5 billion he estimates will be needed for development of the surrounding area, rather than the stadium itself.

The governor also said the debate over Tokyo’s contribution should come after the national government explains how it came up with its cost estimate and how the money will be used.

The sports ministry and the Japan Sports Council had estimated that construction would cost ¥162.5 billion and the demolition of the old stadium ¥6.7 billion.

To slash construction and other costs, they have proposed delaying installing a retractable roof over the stadium until after the Olympics and providing only temporary seating for roughly 15,000 of the projected 80,000 seats.

Architect Fumihiko Maki and others have argued that doing away with the two-arch structure and retractable roof would help cut the overall costs of the project significantly.