May 13, 2010
May 13, 2010 | Issue: 842 | No Comments | 1,047 views

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Photo by James Hadfield

Regarding “Sold Out” (The Last Word, April 23): I’d be all up in arms if it were any actual park. But that grotty little strip of grime along the tracks has been the kind of place you cross the street to avoid for at least 20 years. I don’t like the idea of corporate branding of public spaces, but I do sure like the idea of a skate park and a climbing wall, or additional futsal courts, or anything but what it has always been.—“taj”

A simple question: why can’t the Shibuya-ku local government or the Tokyo Metropolitan Government turn the park into a skate park/climbing wall area without the need for Nike branding? At a pretty low cost for concreting, Shibuya-ku could then earn income from the wall climbers and skaters. There would even be a small opportunity for employment. The argument here is not that Nike wishes to turn the park into some kind of marketing wet dream for teenagers, but that the local government will take ¥17 million a year to turn a public area into Nike’s park.—“northlondon”

The simple fact is that Shibuya-ku do not have the money to spend on this, so have looked for corporate sponsorship to cover the costs. The ongoing annual costs would presumably cover not just maintenance, but also the salaries of people to manage the space.

This place really is an eyesore, and anyone developing it can’t do a worse job than Shibuya-ku have done up until now. As it is, it can’t be called a recreational facility, as no one wants to go in there—too dirty. There are a number of homeless people “living” there, and I hope that there is a thought for them in the development.

FYI, Adidas sponsor a futsal park in Shibuya already, on top of the Tokyu Dept store. Is this any different?—“grouza”

I cannot understand these protests at all. Currently the park is a blighted hole. It stinks like pee, and is covered in empty beer cans and trash. No one would go there to relax, and my wife feels unsafe walking there. In fact, it could be argued that in its present condition it is not actually open to the public, but has been taken over by people who feel they have a right to the park.

On the other hand, recently the government has torn down several of the old skateboard parks in Tokyo. Our son, who loves skateboarding, has nowhere good to go unless he takes the train at least an hour away.

While I can understand people’s concerns that the park is being named Nike Park, the fact that Nike is taking over is for the best.

Regarding Northlondon’s comments: actually, the cost of constructing the park will be several million US dollars, all of which will be paid for by Nike. The fact that Nike will pay ¥17 million (I agree they probably could have got more) will help with the upkeep and the running of the facilities, and will allow the skate park to be free instead of the public having to pay. Nike for years has paid for and maintained nice basketball courts in Yoyogi Park. Nike does not profit directly from these projects; for them, it is all about publicity.

While I disagree about some of Nike’s practices and do not buy their shoes, I am happy that they will come in and build this type of thing. In the current economy, the Shibuya-ku government can probably use all the financial help it can get. I am sorry if some homeless people will have to move their homes to Yoyogi Park, but as it is I find it hard to even call this place a park.—“jpesquire”

Comments posted at Japan Today www.japantoday.com

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