J2 Club Gamba Osaka Turns To Fans, Local Businesses To Fund New Stadium
Japan Professional Football League club Gamba Osaka is turning to its supporters and local businesses to try and raise the remaining 3B yen ($30M) it needs to build its new 40,000-capacity stadium, due for completion in mid-2015. Construction on the 14B yen ($140 million) football-dedicated stadium to replace the current 21,000-seater multi-purpose arena was scheduled to begin in July, but was pushed back to December for further surveys after tunnels were discovered under the new site, a former World War II munitions dump. This allowed Gamba to resume its fundraising drive this month after donations from supporters fell sharply following the team’s relegation from the top division to J2 last season. Gamba spokesperson Koichi Otani told SBD Global, “The original campaign finished in March this year, but has now been extended to March 31, 2014. The aim is to collect all the money from private sources: fans and businesses.”
ECONOMIC LIMITATIONS: Gamba’s owner Panasonic is reported to have provided 8B yen ($80M) in funding for the stadium, but the Osaka-headquartered electronics giant lost more than 1.5 trillion yen ($15B) over the last two years, and is unlikely to stump up any more. Facing fundraising problems, Gamba considered a 32,000-seater stadium, but Otani confirmed that it was going ahead with plans for a 40,000 capacity venue that would meet FIFA regulations on hosting World Cup games. Gamba won the Asian Champions League in '08 and average attendances peaked at 17,712 the following season, but with relegation last year, crowds dropped to 14,778 and they were overshadowed by cross-town rivals Cerezo, which averaged 16,913. Gamba is currently first in J2 and looks set to return to the top division.
Gavin Blair is a writer based in Tokyo.