Further Advancement of Health Businesses and Provision of Sports Medical Treatment Health care Renovation Occurring in Kashima
Kashima Antlers, designated administrator of Kashima Soccer Stadium since 2006, entered into the health business in the same year by launching the fitness gym ‘Kashima Wellness Plaza’. The Rokko region’s aging population sits at less than 280,000. As for Kashima City, where Kashima Stadium is located, the population is only 60,000. Even though the area is consequently defined as ‘not a profitable target region’ in the common sense of the fitness industry, we launched the business not only in order to make practical use of the stadium but also to contribute to the local community. At the same time, it was also decided as part of the business policy to introduce more health programs aimed at women and older customers, who have less opportunities to exercise, than fitness gyms in the metropolitan area provided.
As a result of that, the total number of 1,348 members (including free and paid memberships) from the opening year of 2006 had grown to 21,558 by 2017 – an approximately 16-fold growth in 12 years. In 2010, when the business system changed from being outsourced to independent, Antlers launched an aesthetic business, as well as making use of its accumulated sports care knowledge by introducing preventative-care and diet programs. In addition to the health business, Antlers had now expanded into the beauty domain. Furthermore, we started a collaboration with the Antlers Sports Clinic, which opened inside the mall on the stadium premises in August 2015, increasing the intake of patients who are out of their rehabilitation insurance coverage period and enabling its progression to a place for integrated health care solutions for everything from health promotion and prevention to rehabilitation.
Moreover, the Wellness Plaza installed a bouldering wall last March, further intensifying the attractiveness of what a fitness gym can offer. Recently sports- climbing is becoming rapidly popular. Thanks to a full- scale bouldering wall being installed in the Wellness Plaza – the first of its kind in the Rokko region – a new flavour has been added to Kashima Stadium. This January the machines for aerobic exercise and muscle training were all renewed as well, meaning it is possible to train in a state-of-the-art environment. Renovation of the Wellness Plaza will not cease. Plans to open a skateboarding park on the premises of the stadium, amongst other ideas, are ongoing, while this year, in partnership with Le Furo, a public bath is also set to open. Le Furo mines rich minerals from the so-called hot spring shale using international patent techniques. After grinding them down to extract only the mineral constituents, the purified ’Lefurox’ extract is produced. This ensures that visitors can enjoy public bath facilities containing extremely high-quality minerals at the Wellness Plaza. The basic concept for this public bath facility is that even in the Rokko region where there are no hot Springs, people can still enjoy a hot-spring cure – or perhaps even one which is more effective than that received at a regular hot spring.
The Antlers Sports Clinic also opened in August 2015, and is now in its third year of operation. The average number of visitors increased to 157 per day last year, and it is making a large contribution to the counter-measures against medical de-population in the Rokko region. We will keep striving to return an advanced level of sports medical treatment to the local community.
At the Antlers Sports Clinic, Antlers’ team doctors who accompany the top team and academy on away trips work as a core amongst doctors from other sports teams, utilising IT and sharing information on patients’ symptoms with doctors and staff from Tokyo Medical University and Tsukuba University. This is unusual in a region which until now had a largely orthopaedic presence, and young athletes from elementary, middle, and high school who need care and rehabilitation while training to become professionals now have the peace of mind that they can receive that medical care without needing to travel to and from hospitals in remote areas. It goes without saying that on top of making such contributions to the local community, providing top- level sports doctors who can offer patients advanced sports medical care will also increase the number of people who travel to the clinic from other regions.
Development of the health business centred upon the Wellness Plaza and Antlers Sports Clinic and contributing to local medical care is another important role for Kashima Stadium, and the weight of obligation on Antlers as the designated administrator will continue to grow.
Revitalising the Local Community Foundation of Antlers Hometown DMO
DMO (Destination Management Organisation) is a tourism policy which has been attracting much attention in recent years. The idea is that organisations are required to manage local areas as tourist spots in order to encourage tourists to select them as destinations.
This management organisation is known as DMO, and it produces effective management and co-ordination of local tourism resources. The role can be described specifically in four points. The first is branding the regional tourism resources and image effectively, while the second is maintenance of business sustainability, including everything from the planning to development of tourism products. Next is marketing, in terms of leading promotions aimed at potential clients who might visit the area right up to CRM for tourists who become clients as a result of campaigns. The final point is quality-checks of hospitality in the local area. If a hospitable environment in which to accept visitors is not prepared a valuable experience cannot be provided. Therefore management is required in wide-ranging areas from human resources and education to development and administration of tourism resources, as well as planning strategies.
In Japan, the central role of a DMO is usually played by the administration, but Kashima Antlers already established a Hometown Committee with our five hometown cities in 2007. With an organisation that co-operates at a practical level with the heads of the prefecture and five cities, as well as members from the section management and management class including the Board of Education, we have a good grounding with regards to DMO. By utilising this base the ‘Association of Antlers Hometown DMO’ will officially start operating from April 2018.
This is the first time a J.League club has established a DMO, and the organisation is mainly composed of Antlers’ five home towns, The Royal Golf Club, and Namegata Farmer’s Village. The Rokko area was known within Japan for its sports training facilities even before the launch of the J.League, due to its location and abundance of training grounds. The current number of natural turf grounds in the region has grown to approximately 80, mainly around the Hasaki area in Kamisu City. It is estimated that the number of visitors from other regions for sports purposes such as training camps is as high as 450,000 per year. When incorporating the 350,000 visitors to Antlers’ home games as well that number climbs to 800,000. From now on, by utilising Antlers, a well-known brand nationwide, we will use football (sport) as a tourism resource to promote the revitalisation of the region. To achieve that, we will look to capitalise upon the hometown’s abundance of natural turf grounds to maximise the acquirement of ‘sports inbound’.
The Rokko region already has 80 natural turf surfaces and a great geographical location that is close to both Narita and Ibaraki Airports. As a future vision Antlers are striving for further inbound effect, and in addition to the current 80 surfaces we will establish 20 new high-quality sports turf grounds that can withstand professional specifications, aiming to increase the number of domestic as well as international users to one million. The composite brand power of holding the Ibaraki National Sports Festival and Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2019 and 2020, respectively, means ‘sports inbound’ can be expected to grow as a result of inviting sports camps and competitions from inside and outside of Japan. The multi-functional Kashima Soccer Stadium and Antlers Sports Clinic, which can provide advanced sports medical treatment, plus the Wellness Plaza, which now includes public bath facilities, provide further attractions.
Moreover, while treating Antlers as the hook but also taking in outside opinions, domestic and foreign visitors will have the chance to learn about the region, such as the rich agricultural products of the Rokko area. By doing this, we will fully utilise local resources and attract people to the region not only using football and sports.
In terms of size and quality, ‘Antlers Hometown DMO’ is incredibly original compared to those in other regions. There are still issues to be dealt with such as improvement of infrastructure, including accommodation facilities and management of the natural turf grounds, and Antlers’ role is important in terms of formulating IT strategies to promote the use of private guest houses and providing know-how through the ‘Turf Project’. Both public and private sectors will work together centering around Antlers in this respect. Antlers have been working together with the local community for a quarter of a century, and being proactively involved in this DMO is essential considering the meaning of the club’s existence.
Tourist attractions in hometown cities
Kashima Shrine (Kashima)
Iris Festival (Itako)
Nike Cup (Kamisu)
Sightseeing Sailing Boat (Namegata)
Hokota Melon (Hokota)