YOKOHAMA – The Yokohama BayStars announced Sunday that their president, Jun Ikeda, has stepped down at the end of his contract and Shingo Okamura, a former government official for the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication, has replaced him.
Speaking to reporters at the ballclub’s office along with club owner Tomoko Namba, Ikeda said that his intention was to pass the baton to the next person once he had achieved the goals that he and the club had set when he assumed the position five years ago, which were to “reconstruct and regenerate” the club.
The BayStars were losing around ¥3 billion a year when DeNA took over ownership of the club in late 2011, but under the leadership of Ikeda and the club’s marketing and business strategies, it has consistently increased its revenue. The club is expected to make a profit for the first time under the current DeNA ownership this fiscal year.
The club’s biggest move under Ikeda was the purchase in January of Yokohama Stadium, which the club had rented at an estimated annual cost of ¥800 million.
The club has finally made it into the black this year and obviously wants to keep up its financial performance going forward. The 40-year-old Ikeda said that the BayStars have now laid the foundations to run a more stable business after integrating the operations of the club and stadium.
“Running them all together was one of our goals,” said Ikeda, a marketing expert. “And we were able to build a foundation for our future.”
Ikeda, who leaves DeNA and hasn’t determined his next step yet, said that he wished the team could have won a championship during his tenure, but has no regrets.
“I had a belief that if we had the right management, the team would be more competitive,” Ikeda said. “The team has reached its goal of advancing to the Climax Series, so I don’t think there is anything more I should have done.”
The BayStars, who finished third in the Central League and made their first appearance in the Climax Series this season, were eliminated by the Hiroshima Carp in the final stage on Saturday.
Namba said she appreciated Ikeda’s dedication to his job over the past five years, and added that Yokohama has “rich talent pool” and will take on different characteristics under new chief Okamura.
Namba, who took over as owner last year, explained that Okamura is not a typical government official and has exceptional energy, hinting he could bring new ideas to the baseball business.
Namba said of Okamura: “He puts a lot of spirit into his job and I thought he was great.”
Okamura said in a statement: “Based on what we have done over the past five years, I will aim to establish a business foundation to help make the BayStars more competitive. I believe that the most important thing is for us to live up to the expectations of our fans every year and become a relevant presence to give joy and energy to our community and fans.”
Okamura will hold concurrent posts as the president of Yokohama Stadium, Ltd., and manager of DeNA’s sports business division.
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