New operator for Japan National Stadium


NTT Docomo to operate Tokyo National Stadium Image: Tokyo Paralympic Committee

The Japan Sport Council (JSC) has given a consortium led by mobile phone carrier NTT Docomo preferential negotiation rights to operate the Japan National Stadium from the start of the financial year in 2025.

Japan News said the central government intends to sell the rights to operate the stadium to the private sector for 30 years.

The stadium in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, served as the main venue for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2021.

The consortium, which also includes the Japan Professional Football League (J.League), general contractor Maeda Corp., and SMFL Mirai Partners Co., has offered to pay 52.8 billion yen ($338 million) for the rights.

This would significantly reduce the Japanese government’s financial burden as far as the stadium is concerned.

The NTT Docomo-led group’s proposal was in line with the ideas of the Japan Sports Agency, which is leading the initiative to switch the stadium to private-sector operation.

New initiatives under the incoming operator could include fund raising with a naming rights deal and increasing the number of events held at the venue. The stadium is currently managed by the JSC.

Japan news further stated that costs to operate the stadium, including maintenance and management fees, came to about 1.7 billion yen in fiscal 2022 when it began full-scale operations.

Income was about 900 million yen that year. The stadium is expected to lose 1 billion yen a year in fiscal 2023 and 2024.

In December 2022, the government announced its policy of covering maintenance and management costs for up to about 1 billion yen a year as part of privatization efforts, and the council began publicly soliciting private-sector entities to take over the operation of the facility in July last year.

Three consortia submitted proposals to operate the stadium, which were then studied by an expert panel.

In the preferred bidder selection process, the NTT Docomo-led group scored some 460 out of 500 points, easily beating its two rival bidders. The three bidders’ proposals were examined by a panel of experts formed by the JSC, an independent administrative agency.

The council said the consortium led by NTT Docomo was chosen in recognition of its proposal, which would significantly reduce public expenses. The proposal was also highly regarded for its “ambitious content that will open up new possibilities for the outdoor stadium’s businesses.”

NTT Docomo hopes to use the Innovative Optical and Wireless Network, its next-generation communications infrastructure that uses optical technology, in running the stadium, and plans to make it possible to hold concerts and other large-scale events by making full use of cutting-edge communications technology.

The consortium will also begin developing digital technology to reduce unwanted sound since the stadium has an open roof.

NTT Docomo and the other three parties plan to sign a formal contract as early as September and take over the relevant businesses of the council in April next year.

The national government will continue to own the stadium.

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