Hiratsuka Stadium or Shonan BMW Stadium Hiratsuka as it is currently known as for reasons of sponsorship, is the current home of J.League side Shonan Bellmare. Capable of seating 18,500, the multi-purpose ground first opened in 1987.
Stadium Guide by Football Tripper
Stadium Hiratsuka first opened in 1987 however by the time the Inaugural J-League season came around in 1993 the facilities were already deemed inadequate. Designed as a multi-purpose sports stadium, the pitch is surrounded by an eight lane athletics track, and it required some renovation work in February 1994 in order to make it capable of hosting football matches.
As one of the founding members of the J. League First Division, Shonan Bellmare got off to a lively start, and had their most successful period within the first five seasons until they were relegated in 1999. Winners of the Emperor’s Cup in 1994, Shonan even won the Asian Cup Winners Cup the following season after defeating Yokohama Flugels in the semis, and Al Talaba in the final.
Although not selected as one of Japan’s ten stadiums for the 2002 World Cup, Stadium Hiratsuka was used by the Nigerian National team as a training pitch, and they even played the Yokohama F. Marinos as a pre-tournament warm up match. Three Shonan Bellmare players represented Japan at the world cup, as well as Nakata who had played the season but had recently signed for AC Perugia.
In 2012 local car dealer BMW acquired the naming rights giving the stadium its current name of “Shonan BMW Stadium Hiratsuka”. The stadium was expanded in 2014 which increased the capacity from 15,100 to 18,500.