Posted : 2013-01-17 17:26
Updated : 2013-01-17 17:26

KT gets 10th professional baseball team

By Jung Min-ho

The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) unanimously approved KT as the owner of a 10th team on Thursday.

The telecommunications firm and the city of Suwon overcame a challenge from construction firm Booyoung's partnership with North Jeolla Province.

The new club will play in the minor Korea Baseball Futures League before joining the top-flight KBO in 2015.

In addition to a 20 billion won ($19 million) donation KT has promised for the further growth of baseball, it will pay 3 billion won as a start-up fee and provide a 10 billion won deposit that can be used in the case of a financial emergency in operating the team.

"I deeply appreciate the decision, which wouldn't have been possible without the support from Suwon Mayor Yeom Tae-young, Gyeonggi Province Governor Kim Moon-soo and 1.15 million Suwon residents," KT Chairman Lee Suk-chae said. "I feel a heavy responsibility as the 10th member of the KBO. It is time to think about how to make the sport an international business."

The mayor also expressed his gratitude saying, "Today begins a new era in Korean baseball history."

Yeom went on to say, "I would also like to thank Booyoung and North Jeolla Province. I believe the competition in good faith brought a great deal of attention to the 10th team,"

The upshot was largely expected as KT and Suwon had received a more positive evaluation at a board of directors' meeting on Jan. 11. Among other things, KT pledged to renovate the Suwon Baseball Stadium as well as build a 500 billion won dome.

The 29 billion won project to expand the 15,000-capacity Suwon Baseball Stadium to 25,000 seats has been in progress since Jan. 4. The incoming team plans to use the stadium as its home base from 2014 until the 40,000-capacity dome replaces it around 2020.

KT also promised to nurture young talent by launching an independent professional league with six clubs from 2015 after collecting applications from promising teams and sponsors among cities with a population over 400,000 in Gyeonggi Province.

In 2011, NCsoft paid 5 billion won to form a team in Changwon. The NCDinos will become the ninth KBO club this year having played in the Korea Baseball Futures League since their inception.

When the 10 teams compete in the KBO in 2015, more revenue from baseball commodities and fees from broadcasting rights are predicted as a total of 720 games will be played that season.

While Booyoung hasn't stated its position yet, North Jeolla Province Governor Kim Wan-joo said at Tuesday's media conference that he "will take this failure as an opportunity to further develop amateur baseball in the region."

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