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PapPay takes over naming rights at home to Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks

FUKUOKA, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 07: Pitcher Yuta Iwasada of Japan throws in the top of 5th inning during the baseball friendly between Japan and Chinese Taipei at Fukuoka Yahuoku! Dome on November 7, 2018 in Fukuoka, Japan. (Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)

Nippon Professional Baseball club, the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, will change the name of its baseball stadium to the PayPay Dome next season to promote Softbank’s cashless services subsidiary.

SoftBank is the largest shareholder in PayPay Corp, a smartphone payment app provider with more than 15 million users in Japan.

The stadium is currently known as the Fukuoka Yafuoku! Dome, named after another Softbank subsidiary Yahoo! Japan. ‘Yafuoku!’ means ‘Yahoo! Auctions’ in Japanese.

SoftBank owns both the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks – winner of five out of the last six Japanese baseball championships – and the team’s ballpark.

Stadium rights aside, the main branding opportunities are on the team uniforms – on the player’s caps and the sleeve of the shirt.

PapPay took over the cap position this year when the club terminated its main sponsor deal with Chinese smartphone brand Huawei in response to global scrutiny of the Chinese firm’s communications equipment.

Soft drinks brand Coca-Cola emblazons the shirt sleeve on the leading arm of the both the batters and pitchers. The leading arm is most visible on broadcast coverage.

Last October, the Hawks signed a 10-year commercial agreement with licensed sports merchandise brand Fanatics, effective from March this year. Softbank is an investor in the company.

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The partnership was the first for Fanatics in the Asian market.