KT to run Korea’s 10th baseball team in Suwon
The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) yesterday held a press conference at its headquarters in Dogok-dong, southern Seoul.
The KBO announced its evaluation council, composed of 22 baseball experts, designated the country’s mobile carrier giant as team owner and operator after reviewing applications.
The KBO will request approval at a general meeting to be held with existing baseball owners on Jan. 22.
If two-thirds of the owners approve the KBO council’s designation, KT will officially become the 10th team, following its mobile industry rivals LG (1990) and SK (2000).
Upon approval, KT will likely join the league in the 2015 season, after participating in the Futures’ League, equivalent to the Triple-A Minor League in the United States, in 2014.
“The 22 evaluators favored the baseball team management plan that KT and Suwon submitted more than the plan by Booyoung Group and North Jeolla,” KBO’s secretary general, Yang Hae-young, told reporters.
On Thursday, the two candidate teams and their partner cities, KT-Suwon and Booyoung-North Jeolla (Jeonju), presented their master plans for the 10th team at the Grand Intercontinental Hotel in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul. Booyoung is a construction company with more than a dozen affiliates.
Booyoung and North Jeolla, led by Lee Joong-keun, Booyoung CEO, and North Jeolla Gov. Kim Wan-joo, pledged that they would build a new baseball stadium that could accommodate 25,000 fans by investing 110 billion won ($104 million) by 2015.
They also said that the 10th team should be given to North Jeolla so the league can be regionally distributed.
There are currently nine teams in the league, and four of them are in the Seoul metropolitan area: three in Seoul and one in Incheon.
KT and Suwon said that the southern city in Gyeonggi has a higher market value because it could attract more baseball fans.
Suwon has a population of 1.15 million, and about 6.4 million people live within an hour of the stadium.
North Jeolla said it could access up to 1.3 million people by combining populations in Jeonju and three other nearby cities: Gunsan, Iksan and Wanju.
Mobile carrier KT also promised to donate 20 billion won to the league for baseball’s growth and development and to invest 29 billion in remodeling the existing Suwon Baseball Stadium into a facility that can accommodate up to 25,000 fans.
Suwon already has a stadium where the Hyundai Unicorns used to play.
By Kwon Sang-soo [firstname.lastname@example.org]