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Korean baseball teams set sights on record crowds

With about a month left until the start of the new season, teams in South Korea’s first-division professional baseball league said Wednesday they are hoping to draw a record number of fans in 2011.

According to the Korea Baseball Organization, the combined number of fans that 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 the fans, the teams and their players can all come together to keep bringing a diverse group of fans to the ballparks,” the KBO said. “We will try to surpass 6 million fans for the first time ever.”

The Lotte Giants, based in the southern port city of Busan, said their target is 1.4 million home fans, up 17 percent from last season. The Giants, who play at the 28,500-seat Sajik Stadium, are the only team to draw more than 1 million fans in each of the past three seasons, and they’re hoping to set the KBO record with a fourth straight season 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 fan club” this season. The LG Twins and Doosan Bears, who share the 27,000-seat Jamsil Stadium in Seoul, are each targeting 1.05 million and 1.15 million fans this year.

The Samsung Lions, the runner-up last year, were the only one among the eight teams that lowered expectations. Playing at the 10,000-seat Daegu Stadium, the league’s most downtrodden stadium built in 1948, the Lions hope to attract 450,000 fans this year, down about 5,000 from a year ago. 

(Yonhap News)
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