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Koshien Stadium, Nishinomiya, Japan

July 2nd, 2006 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

Hanshin Kōshien Stadium (阪神甲子園球場, Hanshin Kōshien Kyūjō) is a baseball park located near Kobe in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. The stadium was built to house the national high school baseball tournaments, and opened on April 1, 1924. It was the largest stadium in Asia at the time it was completed, with a capacity of 53,000. The design of the stadium was heavily influenced by the Polo Grounds in New York City. In 1936 it became the home stadium for the Osaka Tigers (current Hanshin Tigers), now with the Central League. On February 14, 1964, the name of the baseball park changed from Koshien Stadium to Hanshin Koshien Stadium.

In addition to the annual National High School Baseball Championship, played in August, the stadium hosts the annual National High School Baseball Invitational Tournament in March, a smaller, invitational tournament. Both tournaments are generally known simply as Kōshien. The high school tournaments are given a higher priority, with any tournament games that need to be rescheduled forcing the Tigers to postpone or cancel conflicting home games.

The Great Hanshin earthquake of 1995 affected Kōshien. Cracks appeared and part of the stands collapsed. In July of 2004, a concrete plan surfaced for improvement of the complete baseball ground facilities.

Construction will begin during the off-season of 2008 while the stadium continues in use for baseball. Later stages will follow during the off-season, and the target for completion of large-scale construction is 2010 or later.

The main improvements are the following:

  • As much as is possible, the present conditions of the baseball grounds will be preserved, including the ivy, which has become a symbol of the stadium
  • The infield will be earth
  • The outfield will have natural grass and be open to the air (no roof over the grounds)
  • The Ginsan roof over the grandstand will be removed and replaced with a modern roof without pillars.
  • The seating capacity will be reduced to about 50,000 people to help make the stadium barrier-free

The stadium consists of four seating price ranges. The top seats are the ¥4000 green seats directly behind home plate. These seats are entirely covered and corporate. The seats in the infield are colored yellow on the first base side and orange on the third base side. The yellow seats are on the "Hanshin side" and are the color of the Tigers' fan club uniforms. The orange seats correspond to the colour of the Yomiuri Giants of Tokyo, far and away the Tigers' biggest rival. Both sides are ¥3500. The outfield benches along the lines are called the "Alps" and ¥2500. The outfield seats are ¥1700. As with all Japanese stadiums the home supporters sit in right field and the away supporters in left field. However unless the opponents are the Giants the away supporters rarely constitute more than one section high up in left field. On most nights the stadium is jam packed with cramped seating.

(Source: Wikipedia)

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