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New football stadium planned for Tokyo

Future Design Shibuya has announced that a new football stadium to be built in Tokyo’s Shibuya ward will be called the Scramble Stadium Shibuya.

This loosely refers to the busy pedestrian scramble the ward is famous for.

Sports Hochi revealed that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Shibuya ward, which is one of the 23 special wards that make up the core of the eastern side of Japan’s capital, are set to go ahead with a proposed private sector-led redevelopment of Yoyogi Park to build a multi-purpose venue.

The proposed venue will have a capacity of 30,000 or 40,000 spectators, and will be used not only for live concerts and events, but also as a purpose-built J-League  standard football stadium, the first of its kind inside the special wards, as well as a disaster prevention centre. The plan was originally proposed by a number of private companies but the Metropolitan Government and Shibuya have now joined in the discussion to consider a possibility of relaxing regulations and restrictions.

The site, Yoyogi Park, is on a publicly-owned property and is a designated scenic area and restrictions on height and size of building in the area mean that both the Metropolitan Government and the Shibuya ward need to relax their respective regulations in order for the stadium project to win planning permission.

The possibility of using the arena as a disaster prevention centre, however, may just open the doors for the stakeholders to consider it as a necessary facility within the park, as the venue’s capability to store food and water for emergency circumstances has been discussed.

The cost of construction, expected to be around $270m to $360m, will be fully covered by private investors, and the work was believed to commence at the southern part of the park without interfering with the protected green area after the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Despite the city’s huge population, Tokyo suffers from a lack of an arena that can host around 30,000 people for live entertainment and the music industry has long demanded such a venue to be built in the capital.

Moreover, a number of high profile ventures developing social gaming platforms are based in the Shibuya ward and this means that the venue may become a new centre for digital entertainment and events.

The venue will also be used as a much-needed purpose-built football stadium with a portable pitch and may well become a new home of FC Tokyo who now play at the Ajinomoto Stadium in the city of Chofu, located in the central western part of the capital.

FC Tokyo, one of three J-League clubs based in Tokyo, boasted a healthy average attendance of 26,490 (last year), second only to Urawa Red Diamonds.

Their home stadium, however, is quite a distance away from the central business districts in the east, and has a running track which has prevented fans from getting close to the action.

Earlier this year, the club signed a multi-year sponsorship deal with an IT giant, mixi, Inc which was reported to be around $1.35m per year, and the Shibuya-based company is believed to be keen to sign a separate partnership deal to financially back the new arena project.

If the reports are found to be true, then FC Tokyo has chosen the path to build and operate their own stadium instead of playing at an existing venue simply because Tokyo lacks appropriate stadia.

Sports Hochi earlier this year reported that the club’s current home, Ajinomoto Stadium, was added as one of the venues for next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan because the construction of the New National Stadium, built as the main stadium for the 2020 Olympic Games, was experiencing a significant delay.

This meant the stadium will not be available for J-League matches during the rugby tournament and no alternative venue would hold 25,000 people, the club’s expected average attendance, leaving them with no option but to play at the Komazawa Athletic Stadium, a significantly smaller venue with a capacity of 20,000 with no floodlights for night games.

The club, to their surprise and frustration, was not informed of the non-availability of their home by the stadium’s operators until after everything was finalised, and now will have to live with the unavoidable loss of revenue over the two month period.

The New National Stadium, on the other hand, will be turned into a football stadium after the Olympic Games and the Japanese Government has been encouraging J-League clubs to put their hands up to become an anchor tenant.

The sheer cost of maintenance and management, estimated around $21.4m per annum, however, has meant clubs have had second thoughts about moving in.

FC Tokyo, along with other Tokyo clubs, have therefore considered the National Stadium option unrealistic, and now are looking at building and managing their own stadium that can constantly attract spectators and revenues alike.

Image courtesy of 1/365 with RyoKaneyasu/Atelier Tsuyoshi Tane Architects/2018 Future Design Shibuya.

 News provided by our Japanese partners, The Stadium Hub: