On Tuesday, the governor of Tochigi prefecture met with a high ranking J. League official to confirm that public government funds will assure the club's solvency up to 50,000,000 yen and that the government will fund improvements of Tochigi SC's home stadium after joining the league.
It's this kind of guarantee that the league wants to hear in order to approve promotion... It's the lack of this guarantee that forced Mito to sit out of the first year of J2 despite qualifying.
Tochigi Green Stadium is soccer-specific and can hold over 15,000, but is visibly old, exposed to the elements, and half the spectator area is elevated grass seating. It is very similar to Mito's situation, where the city has a local stadium of dubious quality. Unlike Mito, which has the much better stadium of nearby Kasamatsu, the only other reasonable fields in Tochigi prefecture are in Tochigi city and Ashikaga city and both of those hold about 5000 people. Mito's home stadium reformation currently being undertaken is taking about a year and a half, but with Kasamatsu as the de facto home stadium for years this is not much of an issue for Mito fans. A similar amount of effort is certainly needed for Tochigi Green, which while great for viewing games, is little more than a glorified staircase of concrete slabs with two seating options: cheap plastic bench or grass. Should the J. League allow this home stadium to remain it will easily be considered the worst main stadium in the country. I have nothing to go on regarding this decision, but don't be surprised if Tochigi SC plays its first J. League season in a temporary home or in several different "home" stadiums. Could they play in Tochigi or Ashikaga? Perhaps Kanto's substitute stadium of choice, Kumagaya? Surprisingly, the stadium closest to Tochigi Green that satisfies all of the J. League requirements is Kasamatsu. Don't be surprised if any of these places host Tochigi SC home games in 2009. Make doubly sure of your away game preparations if you plan to head out.