Commissioner Koo Bon-neung, center, and the owners of the nine baseball clubs hold a board meeting at the KBO’s headquarters in Seoul, Tuesday.
By Jung Min-ho
The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) concluded Tuesday that it will not allow a 10th team in the league at this time, disappointing fans in the areas vying for the new outfit.
The Korean baseball players’ union is also unhappy with the decision and announced that its players will boycott the World Baseball Classic in 2013 and the All-Star Game in July.
“The board of directors reached an agreement that it needs more time to discuss the issue,” a KBO public relations official said.
“It will no longer be on the agenda for meetings to come and we do not have any plan to discuss the issue again anytime soon, probably not this year.”
At a special board of directors’ meeting at the KBO’s headquarters in Seoul, a total of 10 members _ the owners of the nine clubs and Commissioner Koo Bon-neung _ decided against the creation of a 10th team, saying that a lack of quality players could lower the overall quality of the league in consideration of there being only 53 high school teams at this point.
The board concluded that improving the conditions of amateur baseball in high and middle schools was a prerequisite ahead of adding another team to the league.
The KBO decided to start a Baseball Tomorrow fund in a bid to enhance the condition of professional and amateur baseball by forming 20 more high school and 30 middle school teams 10 years from now, and to support the current nine pro teams.
At the same time, baseball’s governing body said it will try to seek ways to minimize potential issues from operating the league with an odd number of teams such as reduced matches against rival clubs and more unnecessary rest days.
Soon after the board of directors’ meeting last Tuesday, KBO Secretary-General Yang Hea-young said that in the face of the rookie draft scheduled for Aug. 20 the league may vote if the board of directors again fails to reach a consensus, signaling a positive prospect for a 10th team. However, the outcome is expected to disappoint the fans and baseball-related organizations with the KBO likely to face a backlash from them.
With the announcement crushing high expectations of a new side in their backyard, fans in Suwon and North Jeolla Province ― two areas badly wanting to host the league’s 10th outfit ― were frustrated with the decision.
Some fans criticized the companies that refused to endorse the expansion saying: “The decision is unacceptable; why did they allow a ninth team?”
The NC Dinos, the KBO’s ninth club, was established last year and the Changwon-based team, is currently playing in the minors and will join the top flight next season.
After the meeting, a representative of North Jeolla Province’s bid expressed regret saying, “The creation of a 10th club will eventually come to pass, although it has been delayed for now. We are going to steadily prepare for it.”
With massive criticism of the decision mounting, there are growing concerns that it may negatively affect the popularity of the sport. The KBO has targeted total attendance for the season to reach a record 7 million.