TOKYO, Japan: Thousands of baseball fans have signed a petition to save the iconic Meiji Jingu Stadium in Tokyo, which is nearly a century old and was where Babe Ruth once played.
Along with a famous rugby ground, the baseball stadium, which inspired best-selling author Haruki Murakami to first pick up a pen and is often compared to Wrigley Field and Fenway Park in the US, is to be re-built in a major redevelopment project that will replace the baseball and rugby fields with skyscrapers and hotels.
In an interview with Reuters, Robert Whiting, who started an online petition to save the stadium, said, "The citizens of Tokyo are going to regret it. They are going to lose a really beautiful, quiet, relaxing spot and a great place to watch a baseball game."
In 1934, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig played at the stadium, which was built in 1926, as part of a Japanese tour.
Murakami said in 1978 he was drinking a beer and watching a game when he first thought of writing a novel, so he then bought a pen and paper on his way home and began writing his first book, "Hear the Wind Sing," on the same evening.
Meanwhile, Mitsui Fudosan, one of the developers, said they were aware of the opposition and are taking appropriate steps, but that the final decision was made by the Tokyo government.