Stadiums install high-tech seats to appeal to spectators

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Seats manufactured by Minoru Kasei Co. and installed in such venues as International Stadium Yokohama are displayed in Akaiwa, Okayama Prefecture.

The Yomiuri ShimbunA growing number of professional baseball and soccer stadiums are installing seating that draws on technology used in automobile seats, allowing spectators to sit in comfort for long periods.

These seats have been introduced at some of the Rugby World Cup Japan venues scheduled in autumn, as well as locations to be used for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. Manufacturers are hoping the events will provide more sales opportunities.

A total of 426 “terrace seats” were installed around the infield at Mazda Zoom-Zoom Stadium, the home ballpark of the Hiroshima Carp. The seats are designed to have a similar elasticity to human muscle, distributing a person’s weight to reduce fatigue and discomfort.

To create baseball stadium seating, Delta Kogyo Co., based in Fuchu, Hiroshima Prefecture, applied technology it developed to make automobile seats for companies such as Mazda Motor Corp.

Tickets for these seats are slightly more expensive than normal ones. “The range of customers who come to the ballpark, and how people enjoy the games, is diversifying recently. We want to be able to meet all kinds of needs,” said the team staff member in charge.

Seventy-nine seats, made by German manufacturer Recaro, have been installed at the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks’ Yahuoku! Dome.

The seats have headrests and a shape that makes it feel like the entire body is being embraced. Recaro seats are used in luxury cars such as those made by Porsche AG and Audi AG.

“They’ll raise the value of the stadium’s brand,” a team spokesperson said.

Basketball’s Seahorses Mikawa, of the B.League, installed modified sports car seats in February. Soccer stadiums, track-and-field venues, and others are also increasingly installing this kind of seating.

Seats at sports venues are generally made of hard plastic, which many people find uncomfortable to sit on for long periods.

With the Tokyo Olympic Games and other international events on the horizon, a movement is spreading to provide spectators with comfortable seating so they can watch competitions stress-free.

For manufacturers, this is a chance to expand their sales routes.

Hanazono Rugby Stadium, a Rugby World Cup venue in Higashiosaka, Osaka Prefecture, has replaced all of its about 24,000 seats. Yokohama Stadium in Yokohama, which is scheduled to host baseball games and other events during the Tokyo Olympics, is planning to upgrade and increase its seating before the Games. Minoru Kasei Co., an automobile parts maker based in Akaiwa, Okayama Prefecture, is providing seats that incorporate technology used to make child car seats.

“Subcontracted manufacturers of parts normally don’t see their names out in front. This is a good opportunity to show off our company’s technological strengths,” said president Takahisa Ikumoto.Speech

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