Hiroshima City proposals for use of Municipal Baseball Stadium site

I have to say that after much grumbling, I am pretty happy with the proposals for the use of the Shiminkyujyo Municipal Baseball Stadium site once the much loved landmark is knocked down.

Also, as I wrote that the eventual use of this land could be a deal breaker as to whether my family and I spent many more years in Hiroshima, I am more than a little relieved. And, to cap it all, the final proposals are a lot like what I dare dream of back in 2005. Although it seems like there’ll be a lot of hurdles along the way, and it remains to be seen how the final result will resemble the plan, right now it feels great to be all “Hip hip Hiroshima” again.

You can read the full 35 page proposal, in Japanese, here (pdf), but according to news reports, the development will center on a hiroba or open space or plaza, much of it covered in grass. To satisfy calls for the preservation of the old stadium, part of the stands will be preserved for use in the future development of a public amphitheater for the staging of plays and other events. The baseball diamond will also feature as part of the design.

A facility will be built to display the huge number of origami peace cranes that are sent from all over Japan and around the world – though I am a little dubious about the statement that this is to meet a long standing demand from visiting tourists (tour operators perhaps). Most promising is the proposed moving of the Chamber of Commerce building (that brooding black one on the corner) and the Youth Center to the east side of the area and the circling the plaza with a wooded area – to be named shimin no mori or “Citizens’ Forest” – which will connect to the riverside where there will riverside cafes etc. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this area turns out as good as it potentially can be. The only proposal that makes me go “Ugh” is the provision of parking space for 20 tourist buses in the northern part of the site.

Here is a detailed map of the proposals (annotated in English).

Former baseball stadium site plan Full Size

Below is a clip from an RCC News segment on the proposals (in Japanese, but you can view an English summary here).

Demolition of the old stadium is not planned to begin until autumn 2009, with High School baseball continuing through the summer, and it is expected that the work will be completed in early spring 2012, so get ready for plenty of ugly downtown construction. All this has to be approved by city councilors in February, and as this blogger [ja] points out it’s what is missing from this proposal that is most surprising; a detailed break down of costs. Indeed, as s/he writes, it seems odd to announce the overall budget when all costs have not been taken into account (impossible when much of the nitty gritty remains vague) which s/he estimates to be almost 100 billion yen more than the estimated 33 billion yen stated in the proposal. In the end, it will all come down to money and where it’s going to come from. There is talk of part of the cost being defrayed by the auctioning of stadium seats (sorted then), as well sale of the naming rights to the open space. One benefit of the economic slowdown on car manufacturers may be that we are spared a “Zoom Zoom Plaza”.