Racing To Replace Venues

Tokyo concert promoters currently face a paucity of suitable venues for shows. Halls and even stadiums are closing down indefinitely for renovations or shutting down permanently to make room for newer venues in preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games.


Until recently, the problem affected only mid-size venues, but with Yokohama Arena and the Saitama Super Arena suspending activities temporarily at about the same time, presenters of large concerts are scrambling for suitable places to hold them. The government of Fuchu, a city east of the metropolis but still within Tokyo Prefecture, may offer a clue to a solution. Fuchu is the home of the Tokyo Racecourse, one of the main horse racing tracks in Japan. The city and the Japan Racing Association are now thinking of using the track as a concert venue.

According to the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, the plan was first brought up last year when the city started discussing ways to celebrate its 60th anniversary of incorporation with a big concert featuring a prominent Japanese rock star but couldn’t find a venue inside the municipality big enough. Someone suggested the Racecourse, which has a panoramic view of Mt. Fuji and can accommodate up to 30,000 people.

After discussions with JRA, a plan was put together to build a stage in the winners circle, but scheduling problems have put the concert in question. In addition, there is a Horse Racing Law that stipulates venues for horse racing cannot be used for purposes that do not promote “livestock production and improvement.”

In essence, the only money-making endeavor a racecourse could accommodate is horse racing. A concert would be OK but not for profit. That wouldn’t be a problem for the 60th anniversary event, since all ticket sales could simply go toward overhead, but now the local government is wondering if it can expand the Racecourse for other uses in the future, which would mean somehow getting around the law. Right now, nobody is talking about renting the track out to promoters but the Fuchu government also wants to bring more people to their city other than race aficionados, and this may be a way of doing that.