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Future high-rise building could provide free views of Jingu Stadium games

by Wayne Graczyk

It appears some apartment dwellers in Tokyo will soon have a great view of Yakult Swallows games at Meiji Jingu Stadium. A high-rise building is under construction right across the street from the ballpark. It’s on the road that runs from the future site of the new National Stadium to the T intersection where it meets Route 246 at Gaien-mae Metro Station.

The foundation of the new structure has about 30 stories — and it may go higher. Anyone living above about the 15th floor should be able to sit on their balcony and enjoy a look at the action directly below, whether it be a pro game with the Swallows or college baseball.

It is remindful of a situation several years ago at Wrigley Field in Chicago, home of the Cubs, where the owners of eight rooftop businesses with views inside the ballpark from beyond the left-field bleachers sued the team. They wanted the Cubs to cancel plans to install signs and jumbo video boards that would block the views of the games.

The lawsuit was eventually withdrawn.

Other ballparks in Japan have had similar situations where residents of upper floors in tall apartment buildings were able to watch live action below without paying. In Sendai, the Rakuten Eagles games were able to be viewed from apartments behind the right-center field stands.

However, as part of the expansion and renovation of what is now Kobo Park Miyagi, Eagles owner Hiroshi Mikitani had workers put up a huge video screen which not only provided more information for the fans who paid for seats inside the ballpark, but also blocked the view of those watching for free from outside.

Years ago, the old Nishitetsu Lions of Fukuoka used to play about a third of their home games at Kokura Stadium in Kitakyushu. I had a friend who lived in an apartment on the 12th floor of a building adjacent to that ballpark. Whenever the Lions played there, she and her family would set up a dinner table on their veranda and watch Pacific League baseball below with their evening meal.

As far as I know, no attempt was ever made by the Lions, the Pa League, Kokura Stadium or any other authority, to block the view.

The Yakult ballclub had no comment about the new structure going up above the grandstand on the third-base side at Jingu Stadium. There does not appear to be any way to erect something large enough to obstruct the view from across the street. It would surely take a wall higher than the one American President Donald Trump wants to put up on the U.S.-Mexico border.

It might not matter much, though. The new building may not be ready for occupancy until after this season, and Jingu Stadium is to be closed for most of the 2020 season during the preparation for the Tokyo Olympics, the Paralympics and their aftermath. The Swallows will be playing elsewhere then.

After that, the ballpark will be razed, and a new Jingu Stadium is to be built farther away from the apartment building. Eventually, a rugby ground will be put where Jingu Stadium is now, and we shall see if the construction companies working on that will consider some way to prevent residents from watching the rugby for free.

Diamond Dust: The scoreboard at Tokyo Dome has been expanded this season to include a lot more statistics on pitchers and batters in the game at a given time. Besides the usual lineups, line score, umpire listing, time of game, pitch count, ball-strike-out count and pitching speeds, there is a whole new series of stats displayed on the video screen to the right of the main scoreboard.

For the pitcher on the mound, you can see how many batters he has faced up to that point, number of batters struck out, hits allowed, walks and hit batsmen.

For the hitter at the plate, it tells the number of games he has played, how many hits he has for the season, total walks and hit by pitches, runs scored, slugging average, on-base percentage, stolen bases and batting average with runners in scoring position.

The batters’ up-to-date season average, home run and RBI totals are posted on the main scoreboard as before.

Tokyo Dome is not the first ballpark in Japan to put on view the various statistical categories. Kobo Park, for one, includes the increased stats on its video board (the one blocking the view of residents of that apartment complex).

Chiba’s ZOZO Marine Stadium is another where the boards tell fans just about anything they might want to know. ZOZO also has an auxiliary scoreboard in right field, which keeps track of other Pacific and Central League games being played around the country.

Now, if Tokyo Dome would install an out-of-town scoreboard to keep us informed about what is going on in other games around the league, that would be great.

Contact Wayne Graczyk at: Wayne@JapanBall.com