Baseball teams set sights on record crowds

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Baseball teams set sights on record crowds


Some teams, like the Doosan Bears - who play at Jamsil Baseball Stadium, pictured above - are expecting more than a million fans and record-breaking attendance this year. By Lim Hyun-dong

With about a month left until the start of the new season and preseason games beginning this weekend, teams in Korea’s first-division professional baseball league said yesterday they are hoping to draw a record number of fans in 2011.

According to the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), the combined number of fans the eight teams hope to attract this season amounts to 6.63 million, surpassing the single-season record of 5.92 million set a year ago.

To reach that goal, the teams will need to attract an average of 12,462 fans per game, up from 11,144 fans per contest last season.

“We hope fans, teams and players all come together to keep bringing a diverse group of fans to the ballpark,” the KBO said. “We will try to have 6 million fans for the first time.”

The Busan Lotte Giants said their target is 1.4 million home fans, up 17 percent from last season. Lotte plays at the 28,500-seat Sajik Stadium and is the only team to draw more than 1 million fans in each of the past three seasons. And the Giants hope to set the KBO record with four-straight seasons of at least 1 million fans.

The defending champion SK Wyverns, whose Munhak Stadium in Incheon seats 28,000, said they’d like to join the 1 million club this season. The LG Twins and Doosan Bears, who share the 27,000-seat Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul, are targeting 1.05 million and 1.15 million fans, respectively.

The Samsung Lions, who came in second place last year, were the only team to lower expectations. Playing at the downtrodden 10,000-seat Daegu Stadium, built in 1948, the Lions hope to attract 450,000 fans this year, down about 5,000 from a year ago.

KBO clubs play 133 games each season. SK, Doosan, Lotte and Samsung will play 67 home games and 66 road games this season. The other four - LG, Hanwha Eagles, Kia Tigers and Nexen Heroes - will do the opposite.

Buoyed by Korea’s gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and a second-place finish at the 2009 World Baseball Classic, the KBO has enjoyed an attendance bonanza in recent years with the three-year period from 2006 to 2008 showing the most remarkable increase, from 3 million fans in 2006 to 5.3 million in 2008.

The league has also decided to expand with a ninth-team in either 2013 or 2014.

The new season starts April 2 and preseason games begin this weekend.


Related Korean Article[경향신문]

올 프로야구 ‘600만 관중’ 넘긴다

600만 관중, 올해는 돌파할까.

한국야구위원회(KBO)가 취합해 9일 발표한 프로야구 8개 구단의 올 시즌 관중동원 계획에 따르면 목표는 600만명을 훌쩍 뛰어넘어 663만명이나 된다. 지난해 정규시즌 592만8626명보다 12%나 늘어난 것으로, 1만1144명이던 경기당 평균 관중도 1만2462명으로 하루 4경기를 기준으로 할 때 매일 5000명 가까이 더 끌어모은다는 계획이다.

지난해 이상저온 현상과 국지성 호우로 많은 경기가 취소되고, 월드컵까지 열렸음에도 600만명에 육박한 것을 감안하면 12% 성장 목표는 그리 많은 것도 아니다.

구단별로는 역시 롯데가 선봉에 선다. 2008년부터 3년 연속 관중 100만명 이상을 동원한 롯데는 올해도 지난해보다 17%나 증가한 140만명을 목표로 잡고, 8개 구단 최초로 4년 연속 100만명 관중 돌파에 도전한다.

그동안 100만명 이상 관중을 3년 연속 동원한 구단은 롯데 외에 LG로 1993~95년에 기록했다.

수도권을 연고지로 하는 SK, LG, 두산도 100만 관중 돌파를 계획했다.

계획대로 된다면 8개 구단 중 절반인 4개 구단이 100만 관중 구단이 돼 프로야구 발전기를 이끌 것으로 보인다.

목동구장을 쓰는 넥센 히어로즈는 지난해보다 무려 38%나 증가한 55만 관중(경기당 8209명)을 모으겠다는 포부를 밝혔고, 지난해 꼴찌였던 한화도 지난해보다 8% 증가한 43만명(경기당 6418명)을 계획했다.

반면 사령탑을 교체해 재미있는 야구를 하겠다고 공언한 삼성은 8개 구단 중 유일하게 지난해보다 오히려 1% 낮은 45만명(경기당 6716명)을 목표치로 제시해 코칭스태프와 엇박자 행보를 보였다.

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