SoftBank To Buy Yahoo! Dome

Japan’s second-largest mobile-phone company, SoftBank, plans to buy the 35,695-seat Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome for 87 billion yen ($1.06 billion) from the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation.

SoftBank owns the Fukuoka Hawks professional baseball team, which leases the stadium as its home ground in the city of Fukuoka, located at the northern tip of the island of Kyushu.

Yahoo! Dome first opened in April 1993 as Japan’s first stadium with a retractable roof. It is frequently used for concerts and other events.

Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) acquired the stadium in 2007 as part of a deal for a complex called Fukuoka Hawks Town, which consists of the stadium, the 1,052-room Hilton Fukuoka Seahawk hotel and the Hawks Town Mall.

A SoftBank representative told Bloomberg News his company’s purchase of the stadium will “eliminate the annual usage fee of 5 billion yen ($60 million)” that it has been paying to GIC. It’s not clear, however, if the purchase of the stadium includes the hotel and the mall.

SoftBank bought the Hawks in 2004 as a means of promoting its Internet content business.

Yahoo! Japan, a subsidiary of SoftBank, bought the naming rights to the stadium in 2005.

Total attendance for baseball games at the stadium in 2011 was 2.23 million, with an average occupancy rate per game of 86 percent, the highest of all Japan’s professional baseball teams.

In a cultural footnote, the stadium was the venue for Frank Sinatra’s final public concerts in 1994.