Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Fighters reveal general plans for new retractable-roof ballpark

Kyodo

The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters announced Monday a basic design for their new ballpark to be completed in the spring of 2023 as Japan’s second with a retractable roof.

The 35,000-seat facility will have a high peaked roof reminiscent of traditional old-style Hokkaido homes, and a massive transparent “glass wall” on the outfield side of the park. This will allow the park to be fully enclosed during Hokkaido’s frigid snowy winters and still support natural grass.

The stadium, currently referred to as Hokkaido Ballpark, will stand four stories high, with the field one floor below ground level. Hot baths in the upper deck in left field are now being planned. The playing surface will be symmetrical, something unheard of at Japanese ballparks until Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium opened in 2009.

A company within the Nippon Ham Group is now scheduled to be formed next autumn to own and operate the ballpark. American firm HKS Architects will take part in the stadium’s design.

In another departure in a nation where major stadiums are nearly 100 percent reliant on public transportation, the Fighters’ stadium is expected to have parking for 3,000 to 4,000 vehicles. Kitahiroshima’s local government is also looking to have a new station built close to the park with the cooperation of the Hokkaido Railway Company.

The cost to build the park is estimated at ¥600 billion ($530 million) and construction is expected to start in the spring of 2020.

Yafuoku Dome was the first in Japan to have a retractable roof when it opened as Fukuoka Dome in 1993.