Judgment day for 10th KBO team nears
By Jung Min-ho
At the height of its popularity, the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) may see another new addition, following its Secretary-General Yang Hea-young’s statement Tuesday, “Soon, possibly sometime next week, we are going to call a special meeting to decide on the issue of forming a 10th team.”
Yang’s statement after this year’s fifth board of directors meeting signaled the possibility that fans will see a new outfit in the near future. “A few companies are interested in establishing a new team, although I can’t specify who they are,” he went on to say
Many baseball fans and related organizations seem to welcome the KBO’s plan to resolve the pending issue. After the last board of directors meeting ended without any clear direction on the matter, many civic groups and baseball-related organizations have raised their voices on the necessity of a 10th team, requesting the KBO finalize its decision before the rookie draft for next season, scheduled for Aug. 20.
“Since the league’s ninth team was born this year, it is important for the KBO to approve the proposal for a 10th club as soon as possible to prepare for infrastructure in advance,” said MBC baseball commentator Heo Koo-youn.
“Obviously, there are issues fraught with potential for friction in running the league with an odd number of teams and considering the size of our economy, I believe the KBO will be capable of running a league with 10 teams profitably.”
Heo said that it is important to diversify the fan base by holding games in different regions saying, “Currently, the games are too concentrated in big cities.”
While Suwon and North Jeolla Province are hoping to host the new team with the expectation that its introduction would boost the local economy, local government officials and related organizations are rolling up their sleeves to promote how keen fans are on a new side.
“Here, the public sentiment is very clear. The fans are longing for a new team. The city mapped out everything a year ago and has been working on improving facilities. It will include remodeling the Suwon Baseball Stadium with a 29 billion won budget if the decision is made,” said Suwon’s sports industry director, Baek Un-ou.
“According to a survey conducted last year, more than 97 percent of the people in the city support the plan to host the 10th team. There are companies and fans wanting it badly, so what’s the problem?”
However, representatives of some clubs among the board of directors disagree with the expansion plan and the proposal may struggle to be passed. They claim that as there are only 53 high school teams, 10 professional sides would be too many. Japan has just 12 professional baseball teams even though it has more than 4,000 high school sides. They say adding more teams will lower the quality of the games. Either way, this time the KBO is taking a strong stand, saying it may call for a vote on the issue in the case the board meeting fails to reach an agreement.
A two-thirds majority is needed to pass the proposal. If the plan to come up with a long-awaited 10th team is approved, the new addition would probably join the league in 2014.