Home of the Hokkaido NipponHam Fighters
Opened in: 2023
Stadium Capacity: 35,000
Dimensions: LF: 97 m (318 ft); RF: 99 m (325 ft); CF: 121 m (397 ft)
Description: Es Con Field Hokkaido is NPB’s newest and sleekest ballpark, officially replacing the Sapporo Dome as home of the Fighters in March 2023. The state-of-the-art ballpark’s showcase piece is a massive glass wall beyond the outfield wall that supports a traditional Hokkaido-style gable roof. Inspired by the Texas Rangers’ Globe Life Field, Es Con Field is NPB’s first foray into the suburban ballpark village concept; it is surrounded by 80 acres of green space and retail.
The facility boasts Tower 11 beyond left field, a five-story, multipurpose building named for the uniform number of franchise legends Yu Darvish and Shohei Ohtani from which fans can watch the game from a bar/restaurant (featuring cuisine made from local ingredients) or onsen (sauna facility), and stay overnight at the exclusive hotel.
The playing surface is natural turf, which grows thanks to the stadium’s retractable roof, which was designed to hold up to 14 feet of snow! Es Con has very limited foul territory behind home plate, which was a point of controversy the year before the field opened because it did not meet NPB standards. It allows for fans to feel closer to the game, but also results in fewer foul ball outs.
The ballpark is not terribly conveniently located, as its located outside the city center and there is no stadium-specific train station. However, there are plans to set up a new JR station right across from the park (hopefully arriving by 2027), which should make the trip to the stadium more pleasant.
Meanwhile, fans have a few options to arrive. They can catch a shuttle from various nearby train stations (most convenient for most fans will be the shuttles from Sapporo or Kitahiroshima stations), walk about one mile from Kitahiroshima station, or drive. NPB fans seldom drive to games, but Es Con’s parking lot, with spaces for more than 4,000 cars, is the biggest in NPB and has a dedicated tailgating area. Pregame tailgating is a novel concept in Japan, so if you’re coming from the U.S., you can teach the local fans a thing or two about a hallowed American baseball tradition.
The stadium features a retractable roof, which comes in handy on those cold spring and fall nights in Hokkaido.