Send Me to Sendai - a Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles Game
In sharp contrast to the Dragons game I posted about yesterday, a visit to Kleenex Stadium Miyagi is nothing to blow your nose at. (Hah. Sorry. I couldn't resist.)
Sendai - and Tohoku - loves the Eagles, and the experience starts at the nearest train station (Miyaginohara Station) which has lots of Eagles ads inside and a baseball hat above the entrance. From there it's a five minute walk past a park. Alternately, you can walk from Sendai Station, which takes about 20 minutes and is quite boring. Note that Sendai itself is probably the quietest NPB city, with very little to do at night.
The stadium was damaged by the 2011 earthquake but reopened early in the season. It looks really good now! I should note the stadium was originally built in 1950, and was the home of the Lotte Orions (now the Marines) in the 1970s. It underwent a lot of renovations before the Eagles moved in, and now looks brand new.
I arrived later than I had wanted so I couldn't even try to walk around the stadium. But the seats were packed and fans were totally into the game.
The stadium shows its age when you look at the seating bowl style - obviously expanded in stages, it features the horrible flat-horizontal wedge behind the dugout.
A similar wedge is out in right field.
The outfield seating was probably added most recently, and there's a gigantic scoreboard in center field.
All the different seating styles gives the stadium character, though. After going to the game, I became an Eagles fan.
I had a pretty good view from my left field seat, and there are lots of food choices around the stadium. There is a KFC right next to the left field entrance for those looking for something familiar, and a little closer to home plate there are many more choices. You can even find the local specialty, gyutan (cow tongue), though I didn't try it this time.
You can actually leave the stadium and enjoy the game outside in a picnic area. Many of the food stands, souvenir shops, and entertainment options are in this area outside home plate, and this is a stadium where you should arrive a few hours before game time to explore all the options and try the different food choices. With the ability to enjoy the game outside of the stadium, and the small capacity, on days when the crowds are smaller (weekdays, for example) it might be a bit tough to get into the game with the crowd.
I'd like to return for another game, arriving early enough before game time to enjoy strolling around the grounds, and giving myself a tour of the stadium. It's not a perfect stadium, but it has character and I think it is the smallest home stadium in Japan.