A plan to expand the country’s top baseball league from the current eight teams to nine next year has been halted with the sport’s governing body failing to reach an agreement on Tuesday.
The NC Dinos, who currently play in the second division league, were seeking approval from the Korea Baseball Organization to become the league’s ninth team.
The KBO’s board of directors, comprised of presidents of the current eight teams, gathered in Seoul Tuesday to discuss the inclusion of the team which was formed last year.
But the officials on Tuesday dismissed the expansion plan, opting to postpone a decision until their next meeting.
|The NC Dinos’ newly renovated baseball stadium in Masan, South Gyeongsang Province. (NC Dinos)|
The KBO was also due to review a proposal to launch a 10th team, but decided to put it on hold as well. The decisions will be made after going through a formal procedure, the KBO announced.
NCsoft, an online game developer, set up the NC Dinos in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province in early 2011.
Its initial aim was to make it into the country’s top league in 2014, but the Dinos, which recently completed rebuilding their Masan Baseball Stadium with an investment worth about 10 billion won ($8.8 million), has insisted that it is now ready to join the top league starting next year.
Also, the union of Korean baseball players announced Monday that they back the move as it will boost the popularity of the sport.
However, some of the current teams, including the Busan-based Lotte Giants, are reportedly opposing the idea of expanding the league in 2013.
They claim the Dinos still need more time to prepare to play in the top division league as it could make the league less competitive.
Baseball is the most popular professional sport in South Korea. In 2011, the KBO drew some 6.8 million fans to ballparks last year, marking an all-time single season record, and it expects to attract a record 7.1 million fans this season.
By Oh Kyu-wook (firstname.lastname@example.org)