Struggling Power Company Tohoku Electric Drops Albirex Niigata Sponsorship
Japan Professional Football League Division 1 side Albirex Niigata is looking for another stadium sponsor after Tohoku Electric Power Co. decided to end its sponsorship of the club's 42,300-seat home at the end of this year. Tohoku Electric, like all of Japan’s utilities, has been in the red since the triple meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in March '11. With nuclear reactors mothballed, it has been forced to import huge quantities of fossil fuels to make up for the shortfall. Albirex spokesperson Kosuke Kurihara told SBD Global, “We are now in the process of looking for a new naming rights’ sponsor and will consider offers in excess of 70M yen ($700,000) annually for a three-year contract.”
THE BIG SWAN: The arena, which was built for the 2002 FIFA World Cup co-hosted by Japan and Korea, has been named the Tohoku Denryoku Big Swan Stadium since March '07. The club wants the new sponsor to carry on using Big Swan as part of the name as it reflects the design of the stadium and supporters are strongly attached to it, Kurihara said. Albirex had been one of the best-supported clubs in the J.League, but crowds have fallen off in recent years. It logged a J2 record average of more than 30,000 in '03 and was attracting more than 40,000 by the '05 season. However, attendances had fallen to just above 30,000 by '10, and to just over 25,000 last season.
Gavin Blair is a writer in Tokyo.