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Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles: Community Outreach Programs - “Turning Spectators into Participants”

Since its establishment, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles have striven to be a team that is loved and supported by local fans, promoting a variety of community- based communication efforts. Local fans are generous in their support - so much so that streets in downtown Sendai, such as the main thoroughfare connecting Sendai Station with Rakuten Kobo Stadium Miyagi, have been dyed red by the numerous crimson Eagles flags on display.

The Rakuten Eagles are supported by the abiding enthusiasm of local fans, and fans’ heartfelt passion helps galvanize the team. Thanks to this support, in 2009 the Eagles were able to advance to professional baseball's "Climax Series" playoff, even though it was a relatively new team only in its 5th season. The team will continue to build strong ties with local fans through community-based programs.

From Watching the Game to Taking Part in the Action

The Rakuten Eagles’ founding principle is, "The Baseball Entertainment Company ~ we are a team that creates excitement and inspires dreams through baseball." Guided by this philosophy, the Eagles are working to create a new kind of spectator culture in which fans watching the games also experience the thrill of participating directly.

Before each game, “Spectators as Participants” events are held to let local fans take part in the action. This includes local schools and choirs singing the national anthem and traditional processions introducing spectators to the region's traditional art forms. Since the team’s establishment, over 50,000 people have participated in these events.

21,789 Volunteers Supporting Team Operations

The Rakuten Eagles have a volunteer program that enables local fans to be directly involved in team operations. The program has been in place since the team’s establishment, and was the first volunteer program in the world of professional baseball.

The main objective of the program is to build strong relationships with the community. As of 2012, a total of 21,789 people had participated as volunteers, ages ranging from 16 to 77. Volunteers help run the five Eco Stations in Rakuten Kobo Stadium Miyagi, sorting rubbish and promoting environmental awareness.

Other Volunteer Activities
Volunteers perform three types of duties. In addition to “eco volunteers” who promote environmental awareness, volunteers also serve as stadium guides during games, and medical volunteers, who provide first-aid during medical emergencies.

Volunteer Appreciation Festival
The Volunteer Appreciation Festival has been held since 2006 to thank the team’s numerous volunteers. It is held at the Eagles' Nest, a roomy lounge in the infield bleachers behind first base at Rakuten Kobo Stadium Miyagi. The friendly event is a chance for us to celebrate the volunteers who have helped us that year. Rakuten Eagles players act awkwardly but endearingly as master of ceremonies, and staff do everything they can to ensure the hard-working volunteers have a great time.

At the Volunteer Appreciation Festival, an awards ceremony is held to honor exceptional volunteers for that year, who are awarded with exclusive Rakuten Eagles prizes. In fiscal 2009, one of the special prizes was being invited to spring training with the athletes in Kumejima.

(Related link) About the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles volunteer activities

Interaction with Future Eagles Fans

The Rakuten Eagles are actively involved in reaching out to future Eagles fans at kindergartens, elementary schools, and middle schools as part of its community outreach efforts.

Future School
The Future School program was launched in 2009 to convey to children the importance of having dreams. The Rakuten Eagles junior coaches, the Tohoku Golden Angels (the Eagles’ cheerleading team) and stadium announcers all serve as "dream ambassadors," helping senior children at elementary schools make their dreams come true. The children who participate in the Future School program glow with enthusiasm as they ponder their dreams and future plans.
Experiencing the Ballpark as a Workplace
To help children understand careers related to professional baseball, the Eagles accepts elementary and middle school students as a part of their integrated learning programs. Students learn about the business of baseball while taking a guided tour of Rakuten Kobo Stadium Miyagi, with the unique opportunity of going behind the scenes on game day and learning about jobs performed by team staff.
Visits to Elementary Schools and Kindergartens
The team reaches out to future fans in the area by sending Eagles players to visit elementary schools, and the club official mascots, Clutch and Clutcheena, to visit kindergartens. For elementary school students, being able to practice baseball with big-league athletes is a powerful experience. The children beam with smiles during the precious time they get to spend with the players.

(Related link) About the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles community-based activities

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