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Baseball: Marines announce plan to add outfield seats, shorten home run distances

This rendering supplied by the Chiba Lotte Marines shows a new seating arrangement at Zozo Marine Stadium. (Kyodo)

CHIBA, Japan (Kyodo) -- Zozo Marine Stadium, one of Japan's more difficult home run parks, will be remodeled this winter to hold 746 more seats, shorten home run distances and decrease foul territory, the Pacific League's Chiba Lotte Marines announced Monday.

    The construction at the Marines' home field located in Chiba will start in November and conclude prior to next season's opening game. The additional seating will raise the stadium's capacity to 30,806.

    According to the construction plan, the current dugouts at the stadium will be moved 5 meters forward with 100 box seats filling the space behind them.

    Another space will be created by digging about 1 meter into the current field area to add 344 seats from which the field can be seen from eye level.

    Another 302 seats will be stationed along what is now the outfield warning track in left and right fields. The wall in front of the seats will be 1.1-meters high instead of the roughly 2.3-meter wall that currently surrounds the outfield.

    The home run distances to the seats will be up to 4 meters shorter, while the current distances down the lines and to dead center will remain at 99.5 and 122 meters respectively.

    The changes follow similar moves by the PL's SoftBank Hawks and Rakuten Eagles.

    The Marines, whose lineup emphasizes speed more than power, have hit 54 home runs this season, the fewest of any team in Nippon Professional Baseball.

    They have allowed 102 home runs, the third fewest in NPB behind two teams that play in even more cavernous parks -- the Central League's Hanshin Tigers (91) and the PL's Nippon Ham Fighters (99).

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