Two-time Olympic figure skating champion Yuzuru Hanyu has thrown his support behind a new ice rink slated to be built in his hometown of Sendai. The superstar released a video message in conjunction with a press conference held by the city of Sendai and Xebio Holdings on Tuesday, November 28 when an agreement was signed for the project, according to media reports.
The rink will be constructed as part of a refurbishment of Xebio Arena, presently the home of the B. League basketball team Sendai 89ers, in the city's Izumi Ward. Xebio Arena originally opened in 2012. Construction on the rink is scheduled to begin in 2024, with the opening set for 2025.
A Message from Yuzuru Hanyu
"The first step of a new skating rink in Sendai has been taken," Hanyu stated in the video. "I hope that many future generations will be born who want to do figure skating in this town like I did. Sendai is called the birthplace of Japanese skating, and many figure skaters have grown from here so far, but the training environment is in a severe situation."
Added Hanyu, "I hope that many new talents will gather in this town, grow, and send out the new charm of figure skating from this town. [And] I would like to thank Xebio Holdings, Ltd and Sendai City for creating a new opportunity again, and ask for your understanding and cooperation so that this initiative can be realized as soon as possible."
The only rink currently in Sendai is the aging Ice Rink Sendai, where Hanyu trained in his youth on the way to ultimately winning the gold medal at both the 2014 Sochi Olympics and 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. So the announcement was welcome news for local skaters.
Details About Sendai's New Rink
Officials said the rink will be 60 meters long and 30 meters wide in compliance with international standards. The renovation work is expected to take about a year.
Xebio will donate the facility to the city but will manage and operate the venue for a determined period of time. When the facility is opened, the city will pay Xebio an annual management fee of ¥350 million JPY (about $2.38 million USD with the current exchange rate).
The city decided to go this route instead of constructing an entirely new rink at another location as it is more cost-effective. For a new rink, the maintenance costs were forecast to be between ¥6 billion and ¥10 billion JPY ($40.7 million-$68 million USD) per year, with annual operating expenses of approximately ¥200 million to ¥300 million.
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Author: Jack Gallagher
The author is a veteran sports journalist and one of the world's foremost figure skating experts. Find articles and podcasts by Jack on his author page, and find him on X (formerly Twitter) @sportsjapan.