Gyeonggi, North Jeolla Provinces vying to host 10th team
North Jeolla Province Governor Kim Wan-joo watches a game between the Kia Tigers and the LG Twins at Gunsan Wallmyeong Baseball Stadium, Friday.
By Jung Min-ho
As the special meeting of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) to decide whether to allow 10th team nears, governors of the two candidate areas, Suwon in Gyeonggi Province and North Jeolla Province, are each promoting why their bid is the best.
“Gyeonggi Province is well-prepared for a new team,” Gyeonggi Governor Kim Moon-soo said at Thursday’s game between the Doosan Bears and the Samsung Lions at Jamsil Baseball Stadium. “We have a company that will sponsor the team and have done research on enhancing the environment. All we need is approval.”
Meanwhile, North Jeolla Province Governor Kim Wan-joo visited the Gunsan
Gyeonggi Province Governor Kim Moon-soo is in the stands during a game between the Samsung Lions and the Doosan Bears at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul, Thursday. / Yonhap
Wallmyeong Baseball Stadium on Friday, where the Kia Tigers and the LG Twins met. At the arena, with over 10,000 in attendance, Kim said that what is more important than the number of fans in the region is diffusing the current baseball fever to places where people previously could only enjoy games on television by constructing stadiums. By doing so, the KBO can grow in popularity and therefore profit from uncharted areas.
“At this point, four of the nine KBO teams are based in Gyeonggi Province. If they get another, it will be a league of their own,” the North Jeolla Province governor said. “Baseball is like a part of welfare. Thus, the benefits from it should be shared by all, not just the metropolitan areas in Gyeonggi Province.”
The reason for the heated debate lies in the fact the region can expect social and economic benefits by having baseball in their backyard. Local clubs can help promote unity and create pride among people in the area, providing a healthy leisure activity within the community. Moreover, the local economy improves with the initial job-creation effect, followed by a busier tourism industry with an influx of visitors. On top of that, promotional effects contribute to bringing other investments from the overall improvement to the image of the region.
The Hyundai Unicorns were based in Suwon from 2000 to 2007 with Suwon Baseball Stadium as their home arena while the Ssangbangwool Raiders played out of Gunsan and Jeonju representing North Jeolla Province from 1990 to 1999 until the team was dissolved when their sponsor went bankrupt.
KBO Secretary-General Yang Hea-young has shown a strong will to end the debate, saying last Tuesday that the league will vote if the board of directors again fails to reach a consensus. With ten members at the meeting, including nine owners of the clubs as well as Commissioner Koo Bon-neung, seven votes are needed to see a new addition to the league.