Volleyball aims for bigger crowds at games

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Volleyball aims for bigger crowds at games


The head coaches of the Korea Volleyball Federation clasp hands at a press conference at the 63 Building in Yeouido, western Seoul yesterday. Hyundai’s head coach Kim Ho-chul stands first from right. [YONHAP]

The 2009-10 Korean Volleyball Federation season could be one of the best in years with the addition of an expansion club and several changes. The season opener will take place between Samsung and Hyundai on Nov. 1 with the postseason coming to a close on April 19.

With the addition of Woori Capital, the league has been expanded to seven teams. Woori will be based in Seoul with their home arena being Jangchung Gymnasium in central Seoul. Each team will play 36 games in the regular season. The number of games in the postseason has been extended from the best of three series in the playoffs to the best of five. In addition, the championship series will be extended from the best of five series to the best of seven.

The federation has secured broadcasting rights with the KBS N channel and all league matches will be broadcast on cable.

League officials are expecting bigger crowds this season, too. Last season, a total of 278,106 fans showed up to matches, an increase of 18.8 percent from the previous season. The goal is to reach the 300,000 mark this season. Considering the increase in number of matches and the expansion club in Seoul, it’s a reachable goal.

Samsung will be gunning for its second consecutive title while Hyundai, who finished the regular season with the best record and finished runner-up in the postseason will be vying for their first title in three years. Hyundai’s season will rest on how its star player Park Chul-woo performs.

The federation had to endure its share of negative press coverage involving Hyundai and national team member Park and the clash of ideas over the implementation of the new free agency system. The federation also decided it will award players with six years experience or more with free agency status. However, the league has decided to limit the number of free agents to two per team.

All eyes will be on the Hyundai squad this season. Head coach Kim Ho-chul was let go from the national team when one of his assistants beat Park after a practice in September. Kim was heavily criticized for the way he handled the case.

“When the team gathered for our first practice, the atmosphere was not good,” Kim said at a media day yesterday at the 63 Building in western Seoul. “Things got a lot better but we still need to work on it. Park is still having a tough time getting over the incident.”

By Jason Kim [jason@joongang.co.kr]
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