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Professional baseball aims to draw record 7.1m fans this year

South Korea’s top professional baseball league expects to attract a record 7.1 million fans this season, up 4 percent from last year, the Korea Baseball Organization said Sunday.

Buoyed by an unprecedented wave of popularity, professional baseball games drew some 6.8 million fans to ballparks last year, marking an all-time single season record. The 2012 season is set to kick off on Saturday.

The average attendance per game is also expected to rise to 13,346 fans this year from an average of 12,081 last season, according to a report by the KBO.

The report was based on a compilation of fan targets set by the league’s eight teams.

Seoul-based Doosan Bears aim to attract 1.3 million fans to their home field this year, followed by 1.25 million for the LG Twins, also based in Seoul.

The Lotte Giants, based in the second-largest city of Busan, set a target of 1.2 million fans, the report said.

Last year’s champions, the Samsung Lions, based in Daegu, aim to draw 550,000 fans.

Despite the increase in the game’s popularity last year, the image of professional baseball was tarnished by an ongoing match-fixing scandal.

Last month, the KBO apologized to fans over the scandal. 

(Yonhap News)