Kitakyushu emerges as Japan IR contender

An IR for Kitakyushu appears to be on the table. The Asahi Shimbun reports that Mayor Kenji Kitahashi, who has received a proposal from a Hong Kong operator, said at a regular meeting last week, “I will properly consider and study this as much as is possible,” indicating an IR bid is very much a possibility.

There are two suggestions for the candidate site: the JR Sanyo Shinkansen Kokura Station North Exit and the Kitaku area in Moji Ward. Of these, the Kokura Station North Exit is considered the most suitable due to its central location. In addition to a casino, other facilities such as a theme park, international convention hall and hotel are also planned to the East of Asanoshiokaze Park, north of National Highway 199.

This location would include the Mikuni World Stadium Kitakyushu. The idea is to build a multi-purpose indoor arena where visitors won’t just be able to play soccer, but also baseball.

The investment amount is expected to be over JPY600 billion, excluding the cost of purchasing land. The casino is expected to generate around JPY250 billion in annual revenue, creating JPY75 billion in tax revenue for the city.

On the received concept plan, Mayor Kitahashi stated at the regular meeting earlier this month, “I am frankly very happy that Kitakyushu city has been considered from so many cities and we will consider the specific concept. I want to study it properly.”

On the other hand, he indicated that his neutral stance would not change and, “[regarding the planned site] there are public and private facilities for residents.” He expressed his view that it was necessary to gain the agreement of landowners and users.

In a September survey to gauge the intent of locations nationwide to submit IR bids, Kitakyushu responded that they had no plans, however the country has yet to indicate a specific application deadline.

Mayor Kitahashi said, “I want to keep an eye on what sort of schedule the government will come up with and respond to that.”

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