Photo/IllutrationHokkaido Ballpark will have a glass wall up to 70 meters tall to let in natural light. (Provided by Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters Baseball Club Co.)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

SAPPORO--Fans will be able to root for the Nippon-Ham Fighters professional baseball team from the comfort of soaking in an onsen hot spring up to their necks when its new stadium opens in March 2023.

The stadium, tentatively named Hokkaido Ballpark, will be equipped with a bathing facility with a natural hot spring in the upper section of the left-field bleachers, according to the team and its parent company, NH Foods Ltd.

The facility, with a capacity of about 35,000 people, will be located in the city of Kita-Hiroshima, southeast of Sapporo. Construction will begin in spring 2020.

The U.S. design firm HKS Inc. and Japanese general contractor Obayashi Corp. will be in charge of the 60-billion-yen ($530 million) project. HKS is responsible for the Texas Rangers' Globe Life Field, now under construction.

To enhance the natural lighting and “borrow” views from the surrounding natural environment, a glass wall 180 meters wide and 60 to 70 meters tall will be built behind the center-field section.

The stadium will feature a natural grass field under a retractable roof. The triangular-shaped roof design is known as “Kirizuma-yane” (gable roof), an architectural style commonly used for houses in Hokkaido.

The venue will have four stories above ground and one below, sitting on a 50,000-square-meter site. The field and the stands are designed asymmetrically.

(This article was compiled from reports by Hironobu Yamashita and Akihiro Toya.)