J.League's Vegalta Sendai Sells Naming Rights To Second Stadium, Miyagi
Naming rights for the 49,000-seat Miyagi Stadium, the unloved secondary venue for J.League side Vegalta Sendai home games, have been bought by the local branch of the JA agricultural cooperative. The deal sees the stadium renamed the Hitomebore Stadium Miyagi until '17, for 5M yen ($50,000) in annual fees. Hitomebore is a popular local variety of rice; the word can also mean "love at first sight," though local fans have little affection for the stadium. In addition to poor transport links, Vegalta Sendai's record in matches at the stadium, which is a 30-minute drive from the city, has been so poor that fans call it jinxed. Japan's run in the 2002 FIFA World Cup ending there with a 1-0 defeat to Turkey didn't help its image.
OLYMPIC VENUE: Vegalta hasn't scheduled any J.League home games there for the current season, preferring to use the 20,000-capacity Yurtec Stadium in Sendai City. However, the stadium has been selected as a football venue for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and hosts big concerts. A spokesperson for the local JA branch told SBD Global, "It's not big money, and it gives us a chance to promote Hitomebore rice outside the local area, particularly with the Tokyo Olympics coming up. And a lot of other events are scheduled for there in the meantime."
Gavin Blair is a writer in Tokyo.