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Baseball: Nippon Ham Fighters' new stadium fails to meet Japan's foul territory criteria

Es Con Field Hokkaido, the new home stadium of the Nippon Ham Fighters from the 2023 season, is seen in Kitahiroshima, Hokkaido, on Nov. 3, 2022. (Mainichi/Takumi Taniguchi)

TOKYO -- The new home stadium of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters professional baseball team, which was recently unveiled to the media, falls short of the official criteria for the foul territory, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned.

    Part of the ground at Es Con Field Hokkaido, the ballpark in the city of Kitahiroshima, Hokkaido, fails to meet the standard set out by the official baseball rules in Japan, sources familiar with the matter revealed to the Mainichi on Nov. 8.

    Under the official baseball rules, it is stipulated that 60 feet (about 18 meters) is necessary from the home plate to the backstop, and from the base lines to the fences, stands or other obstacles in the foul territory.

    However, the new stadium does not fulfill the criteria, and some attendees pointed this out during a meeting of the 12 pro baseball teams' executive council on Nov. 7.

    The ballpark is set to open in March next year as the Fighters' new home stadium from the 2023 season. The proximity of its stands to the field -- carpeted already with natural grass -- is promoted as one of the appeals of the facility, and the construction work is more than 95% complete.

    "We're in talks with various parties, and cannot let the details be known," the Fighters commented.

    (Japanese original by Shun Morino and Naoya Tsunoda, Sports News Department)

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