Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters hold ceremony for completion of new stadium

A Japanese professional baseball team, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, has held a ceremony to mark the completion of its new stadium.

About 300 people, including team and construction company officials, attended Thursday's ceremony at the "Es Con Field Hokkaido" stadium near the northern city of Sapporo. A Shinto priest performed a ritual to purify the ballpark.

The club's director, Kawamura Koji, said he is happy to see such a wonderful stadium, and he wants to create new forms of entertainment.

He added that he hopes fans will feel proud of the stadium as a symbol of Hokkaido.

The ballpark has a retractable roof to protect fans and players from bad weather. The glass center field wall is about 70 meters high. The field is carpeted with natural grass.

The stadium complex also has a hot spring and sauna where fans can relax while watching games.

The team's first preseason game will be played on March 14, followed by the season's opening game on March 30.