KBO officials, teams to evaluate expansion bids

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KBO officials, teams to evaluate expansion bids

KBO officials and representatives from eight clubs will hold a meeting this morning to discuss the possibility of adding two expansion teams to the current eight-team league.

NCsoft Corp., an online-game developer, submitted an application yesterday to start an expansion club in Changwon, South Gyeongsang. The KBO and team representatives will discuss the viability of the NCsoft application, along with two other potential bids, at the board meeting.

“We will first discuss expansion and then we will move on to evaluate each bid,” said Lee Sang-il, the KBO secretary general. “It’s important to stress the importance of expanding the league by adding a ninth and a 10th team and to get the approval of the team representatives.

KBO officials support the idea of expanding the league to an even-numbered league of 10 teams because they could divide the league into two five-team divisions.

However, the KBO is expected to meet resistance at today’s board meeting. The Busan Lotte Giants have expressed strong disapproval of an upstart club in Changwon, which is located in the same province of South Gyeongsang.

“Adding an expansion club is an issue we should discuss after surpassing the 10 million attendance mark,” said Jang Byung-soo, the president of the Giants. “If a medium-sized company, instead of a large corporation, is to sponsor a club in this league, it can cause stability problems for the league.

“The league’s front office doesn’t even have a clear outline on how they will evaluate and conduct their decision,” said Jang.

The other seven clubs are generally supportive of expansion, but they have criticized league’s lack of organization.

The outline includes details such as potential owners’ monetary resources, the amount they plan on investing in the team, expansion fees and costs associated with building a stadium and training facilities.

In the past, expansion fees - which are shared by the league and its existing members - were used to oppose expansion in certain cases. In 2008, team officials and the KBO front office disagreed on the fee, scuttling an effort to start an expansion team led by KT.

“I approve of the idea of expanding the league, but they will need to do a good job of convincing me and making me understand why this is a good move for the league,” said Shin Young-cheol, the Incheon SK Wyverns president.

The KBO and team presidents will also discuss making changes to current expansion rules. In the past, expansion teams were given two first-round picks in the annual amateur draft; three overseas players instead of the standard two; and their choice of players not on each team’s “protected list” - the KBO allows teams to protect 20 players on their roster from being taken by an expansion franchise.

Proposed changes could reduce the number of players protected by each team from 20 to 18 and increase the total number of overseas players for all clubs in the league from two to three.

By Choi Min-kyu, Jason Kim [jason@joongang.co.kr]
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