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SBJ/Stadium & Arena 2019 impresses in Japan

The hugely successful SBJ/Stadium & Arena Japan 2019 conference and exhibition attracted big crowds to the Saitama Super Arena in Japan this week.

Hundreds of delegates packed the conference halls for two days of high-level presentations and roundtable discussions on the sports business in Japan.

The accompanying exhibition with more than 50 stands also proved a big hit with the attendees.

The size of the sports market in Japan is expected to grow from 5.5 billion yen to more than 16 billion yen by 2025, while some 20 stadia and arenas are set to be built by 2025.

Japan has just staged a phenomenally successful Rugby World Cup and will host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.

On the back of the Rugby World Cup, a new professional rugby league will also be launched in the country in 2021.

Kiyomiya Katsuyuki, vice president of the Japan Rugby Football Union, said the league would be supported by the sale of broadcasting rights.

Saburo Kawabuchi, president of the Japan Top Leagues Alliance stressed, however, that the most important thing was to attract people to the games, and young people in particular.

He said it was important to build a strong home team culture in the city’s where the rugby teams would be based. He added:

In my view there are only a few stadiums that can be used as professional venues for rugby in Japan. We can build and develop new stadiums but how are we going to support them?

The very first thing that needs to happen for the rugby league to be successful is that people need to come and see the games.

Other roundtable discussions covered revenue generation and fan engagement and stadium and arena operations.

Clément Bodin from Natural Grass and Hamish Sutherland from HG Sports Turf gave an informative presentation on the growing use of hybrid sports turf, focusing particularly on their work on pitches used at the Rugby World Cup.

The new National Stadium in Tokyo, which will host the Olympics and is due to open shortly, was also highlighted at the show.

Delegates were also taken on venue tours of the Saitama Super Arena and Saitama Stadium, home of Urawa Reds from the J-League.

The conference and exhibition will take place next year at the new Pia Arena in Yokohama from October 6-7.