Sapporo Dome

Built on a hilltop in Sapporo’s Toyohira-ku, the Sapporo Dome is visible from many parts of the city and as such is one of Sapporo’s landmarks. It’s home to both the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters baseball team and the Consadole Sapporo Soccer team, and is also the site of many of Sapporo’s largest events and concerts.

The Dome opened in June of 2001 and hosted 3 games in the 2002 FIFA World Cup, after which it became the home of Consadole Sapporo. In 2004 the Nippon Ham Fighters moved here from Tokyo to become the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. The stadium is unique in the world for its technological innovation; it literally transforms between sporting events. Baseball games are played on an artificial turf field, while soccer games are held on a grass pitch that slides in and out of the stadium, rotating 90 degrees into place. After baseball games the artificial turf is stored, and a set of lower bowl bleachers rotate from an angled position for baseball to a parallel position. Then a set of main bowl seats on one end of the dome retracts, the soccer pitch is slid in, and the lower bowl is rotated 90 degrees into place. The whole process takes about 8 hours.

In addition to baseball and soccer, the Dome has hosted several other sporting events including the 2007 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, a super special stage in Rally Japan, and the Toyota Big Air snowboard competition. Many international concerts have been held here including Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton, Aerosmith, The Eagles, The Rolling Stones, Billy Joel, and Simon & Garfunkel, together with many visiting K-Pop bands and a of course regular appearances by top Japanese performers.

The Dome is also home to events and exhibitions, some of the most popular being the annual Fua Fua Adventure (a kids event with inflatable bungy trampolines, jumping castles, the world’s largest inflatable slide and the world’s first stadium slide), and the Sapporo Auto Show. The Dome was designed by architect Hiroshi Hara to allow Sapporo’s heavy snowfall to slide off the roof easily and lessen stress on the structure. It has a capacity of 41,484 people for soccer games, 40,476 for baseball, and a maximum seating capacity of 53,796 (expanded in 2009).

It’s located in Toyohira-ku, about 10 minutes on foot south of Fukuzumi Subway Station on the Toho subway line, which itself is about 15 minutes from Sapporo Station or Odori Station. There’s a bridge across the main road in front of the station that leads up the stairs to the main North Gate entrance. The West and South Gates are also open during events. Ticket windows, the fan club area, and the Sports Stadium Sapporo restaurant are all located inside the North Gate. The North Gate is open to the outdoors during games so can be a bit cold. The West Gate is covered though, so this is the best place to wait for the gates to open before an event. After the game, there is a rush back to the subway station so you might want to hang around for a bit before getting on the train. There are shuttle buses to various parts of Sapporo, but the roads can be very crowded. Expect a wait to get back downtown after games.

The 1st floor main concourse and 2nd floor feature about 20 food vendors, with options ranging from international brands like KFC and Subway to unique items like the Hokkaido Steak Donburi (rice bowl). Beer is served by vendors with portable kegs running up and down the aisles during games, and is reasonably priced at 600 yen. There’s also the Sports Stadium Sapporo restaurant, which serves local Hokkaido dishes at reasonable prices.

It has a memorabilia from international players on the walls and dozens of TV screens. There’s not a lot to see at the Dome between events, although there is a full on site gym for just 500 yen, and the observatory at 53 meters above field (also 500 yen admission) provides good views. The West Gate has displays on the history of the Dome, including memorabilia from the 2002 World Cup, the Fighters and Consadole teams over the years, other sporting events that have been held there as well as concerts.

A combination tour/observatory package is available for 1,200 yen (tour only for 1,000 yen) which includes the locker and bullpen, but is only offered in Japanese.

This post is also available in: Japanese