Health Business and Sports Medical Care Contribute to Regional Growth Kashima Stadium at the Heart of a Healthcare Revolution
Now into its 13th year since opening, last year the Kashima Wellness Plaza reached 22,907 members,an increase of more than 1,000 from the previous year's 21,558 (including free and paid memberships). In January managerial efforts were also reflected by the full renovation of the equipment used for aerobic exercise and strength training. From a business point of view it appears impractical to have a solely fitness based enterprise in the Rokko region, and the growth to so many members is surely thanks to the core sports know-how accrued by Antlers and applied to preventative care and diet programs as well as the provision of new health initiatives, with it seeming that elderly and female residents of the region respond positively to the approach rooted in the ‘Antlers' brand.
In addition, the renovation of the back stand, which was planned from last year, will begin in earnest from 2019, as will installation of the public bath much-desired by members. This will be carried out in partnership with Le Furo, which mines rich minerals from the so-called hot spring shale using international patent techniques. After grinding them down to remove only the mineral constituents, practical use is made of the resultant purified 'Lefurox' extract to make for a truly high quality bathing experience.
In 2017 a bouldering wall was installed
In 2018 the latest machines were
Power plates and other special ist
equipment enable individual programs
to be carried out
Skincare programs are administered to
suit each individual
On the other hand, the Antlers Sports Clinic opened in August 2015 and has already passed its third year in business, averaging 170 visitors a day in 2018 - an increase on the 157 from the previous year. This service makes a large contribution to the de-population counter-measures in the Rokko region, but analysis of the age ratio of visitors shows that 40 percent are under 40 years of age, suggesting that people using the facilities aren't only doing so for reasons of orthopaedic care. This is closely related to the ‘Antlers' brand image, and the provision of top level medical care clearly leaves a big impression, with doctors who work with the top team down to the academy on matchdays and for away games also serving at the centre. It is also widely used, enabling patients' conditions to be shared with doctors at Tokyo and Tsukuba Universities and medical examinations to be carried out, while plans are also in place to provide even further high quality sports medical care in the local region.
It isn't only team doctors, and with Antlers physiotherapists also enrolled it is possible for the know-how acquired with the top team to be capitalised upon during rehabilitation as well. There are also plans to introduce special jointrecoveries with doctors and physiotherapists.
In this way there is a shif t taking place in a region traditionally known more for or thopaedic care, and elementary, middle, and high school students in need of rehabilitation and treatment as they aim for success in competition can receive care at ease without having to travel long distances to and from hospital. That naturally makes a contribution to the local area, but the provision of high level sports medical care and presence of top grade sports doctors and physiotherapists also means more individuals will travel from other areas as well.
Kashima Stadium has an important role to play with regards to the development of the healthcare business and regional and sports medical care contributions centred upon the Wellness Plaza and Antlers Sports Clinic, and as designated administrator the level of responsibility on Antlers is growing year by year.
Takashi Sando, Antlers’ Chief Team Doctor
The full physiotherapist team
State-of-the-art imaging equipment not found in general
orthopaedics (3.0 Tesla MRI)
Special equipment enabling optimal
Waiting room in Antlers colours
Antlers Hometown DMO
Antlers Hometown DMO Kicks into Gear
Advancing with Unity to Revitalise the Local Economy
Last January Kashima Antlers established the Antlers Hometown DMO in partnership with the five hometown cities, The Royal Golf Club, and Namegata Shirohato Farm. This is a joint corporation comprising of the public and private sector, which aims to develop business that enhances ‘the money-making ability of the region' centred upon sports tourism by utilising Antlers' brand and the marketing ability of the private sector. With Sekisho Corporation also becoming involved, it officially launched in April as a ‘Japanese DMO'.
As previously mentioned in the ‘Advancing with the Hometown' section, the inbound economy has been gaining attention in recent years, with DMOs one of the tourism measures being promoted. This is the idea that an organisation is required to manage a region as a tourist spot in order for it to be selected as a destination by visitors. This organisation is known as a DMO, and it effectively manages and coordinates the local resources for tourism.
The role of a DMO can be described specifically in four points. The first is branding the regional tourism resources and image ef fectively, 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, and so a wide range of management is required to secure and educate human resources, develop and manage the tourism resources, construct strategies, and devise plans.
Antlers Hometown DMO is the first of its kind established by a J.League club, with the preparation for its establishment starting three years ago in 2016 before construction of the organisation system was completed last year. This period can be described as the ‘run-up' preparing to contribute to the local economy.
Our hometown of the Rokko region was originally well known before the launch of the J.League as a place to host training camps within Japan because of its location and abundant land. There are currently approximately 100 natural and artificial turf grounds in the Rokko region, spread mainly around the Hasaki district of 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 440,000 visitors to Antlers' home games as well, that number climbs to almost 1 million. From now on, by utilising Antlers, a well-known brand nationwide, we will promote the revitalisation of the region using football (sports) as a tourism resource. To achieve that, we will take advantage of the hometown's abundance of natural turf grounds to maximise the acquirement of ‘sports inbound' not only within Japan but also from abroad.
In addition, the Rokko region meets the necessary geographical condition of being close to both Narita and Ibaraki Airports. This year the Ibaraki National Sports Festival and next year the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games are taking place. Therefore, with the help of the composite branding power, ‘sports inbound' such as inviting sports camps and competitions from inside and outside of Japan is expected to grow. The multi-functional Kashima Soccer Stadium and Antlers Sports Clinic, which can provide advanced sports medical treatment, plus the Wellness Plaza, to which public bath facilities will be added, are great attraction points. Moreover, while using Antlers as the hook to draw in outside opinions, we will utilise local resources fully by making the Rokko region's rich agricultural products known to domestic and foreign visitors. We will spread the charm of the region, which is not limited to sport.
Thus, the business domain of Antlers Hometown DMO mainly revolves around the local tourism business, which ‘develops and sells destination-type travel products while we dig out the local tourism resources that lie in the Rokko region'. For this purpose, we will plan, sell, and promote a package for each domestic tourist and foreign visitor to Japan based on the following four pillars: firstly ‘sports tourism', which was discussed previously; secondly ‘green tourism', which is composed of agriculture and food and nutrition education; thirdly ‘eco tourism', which offers an experience to come into contact with nature, history, and culture through Kashima Shrine and Suigouitako as well as various exercise spots such as the cycling and running course around Kasumigaura and Kitaurakohan; and lastly ‘health tourism', which utilises the public bath facilities and Antlers Sports Clinic.
Combined ef for ts with various related organisations and corporations are essential in this business area. We have to proceed further based on mid- and long-term plans. Therefore, the Antlers Hometown DMO will propel a reliable ‘profit-making business'. With the aim of making mid- and long-term work sustainable, we are looking to construct a profit base which will enable us to run the organisation without the subsidy we currently receive from the national and local governments by achieving a surplus through the DMO. More specifically, we will make the most of our current assets and strengthen ‘sports tourism' by holding domestic competitions and promoting the hosting of training camps for foreign sports teams, as well as playing the role of a local trading company.
Last year Antlers Hometown DMO sponsored and co-sponsored two domestic competitions. In co-operation with the Japan Football Association, we also hosted training camps for national teams such as Tajikistan U-16, Sri Lanka, East Timor, and Kyrgyzstan. Moreover, in association with Antlers a Chinese club team was invited and played training matches against Antlers' junior side and the local boy scouts, while students from Hanoi University of Science and Technology were also hosted in co-operation with Sekisho Corporation. In total, we received and hosted students and teams from nine countries. This year in partnership with Antlers Academy we are planning to increase the number of domestic competitions. We will further promote the reception and hosting of teams from abroad, including those from sports other than football.
Furthermore, as an example of the collaboration work being undertaken with corporations and the local government, we can cite a one-night two-day travel package which includes ‘glamping' - glamorous camping at Namegata Farmer's Village - the viewing of a fireworks display, and watching a game at Kashima Stadium. This trip combined last year's home game against Jubilo Iwata on 24 August and the Kashima City Fireworks Festival the following day, with many supporters participating as part of their summer vacation activities. Furthermore, in March this year we held the ‘Ibaraki 100km Ultra Marathon in Rokko' in cooperation with Namegata City. Under the title of ‘The flattest 100 km course', we carried out a marathon competition running through the five hometown cities with the main course circling Kitaura lake.
As an example of utilising Kashima Stadium, meanwhile, last year we conducted the ‘Antlers Stadium Camp'. As previously mentioned in the ‘History of Kashima Soccer Stadium' section, this camping event took place for one night and two days between 11-12 August, with tents being pitched on the playing field at Kashima Stadium. It was a truly ‘out-of-the-ordinary experience' for fans to sleep on the area in which they are usually prohibited from entering, and proved to be incredibly popular among family groups as there were many events that both parents and their children could enjoy such as a stadium tour, a health program run by the Wellness Plaza, a sightseeing tour of scenic landscapes around Kashima City - including Kashima Shrine - and a star-watching tour at the stadium. The away game against Nagoya was contested on the day of their stay, so they were able to enjoy dinner and a public viewing of the match in the beer garden set up as an annex to the stadium. On top of that, the shower room normally used by players was made available for use by the participants, making the event even more unique to Antlers and Kashima Stadium. All in all, the event served as a hint of the great things to come from the Antlers DMO as we look to the future.
In order to accelerate these movements while revitalising local tourism through marketing, we need to put efforts into promotion as well. Antlers Hometown DMO will start operating owned media from this year to attempt to enhance promotion. This will mainly be aimed at sharing tourist information about the Rokko region.
As a measure to intensify the reception of sports training camps from China which produced notable results last year, we will locate a new base in Canton, Guangdong Province in co-operation with a local tourism company. This will arouse further demand via promotion and reception activities in the local area.
In collaboration with Antlers, a plan is also ongoing to open ‘Antlers Rooms' in a hotel in the hometown. These rooms are intended to appeal to supporters as their accommodation choice as a result of being literally decorated in an ‘Antlers' style. Including the display of autographed uniforms and replicas of the J.League shield and other trophies, supporters can thoroughly experience the history and tradition of Antlers. Additionally, we are aiming to implement a helicopter tour, with a test flight conducted for the last home game of last season. Flying between Tokyo and Kashima by helicopter to watch a game is of course a luxurious plan that only VIP members can enjoy, and includes a flight tour being conducted before the match during which participants can enjoy the charm of the Rokko region while flying over the stadium.
The Antlers Hometown DMO possesses such infinite possibilities, and Antlers will remain actively involved in revitalisation of the region.