The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters are considering building a new ballpark in Sapporo or its vicinity, baseball sources said Tuesday.
“We owe it to Sapporo Dome for being able to play baseball even when it snowed,” Nippon Ham manager Hideki Kuriyama said. “We are grateful, but there is a lot more we can do. We’re trying to explore possibilities here.”
The Pacific League club currently uses Sapporo Dome as its home field, but the facility is owned by the city of Sapporo and managed by a nonprofit organization.
When the Fighters hold home games or other events at Sapporo Dome, the team is required to pay an ¥8 million daily usage fee in addition to a service charge of ¥400 per head any time the attendance surpasses 20,000.
The Fighters want to increase profitability by constructing their own home ground and integrating management of the team and the stadium, which is expected to feature a retractable roof, natural turf and will be tailor-made for baseball.
Sapporo Dome is a multipurpose facility with a capacity of 41,138, but the Fighters are looking for a tighter new ballpark and are scouting 15 to 20 locations, including the Hokkaido University campus in Sapporo and neighboring Kitahiroshima city.
Sapporo Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto hopes the team will stay in the city.
“It’s understandable from the perspective of team management,” Akimoto said. “It would be great if they continue to consider Sapporo.”