The nation's top professional baseball league on Tuesday established a new single-season attendance record.
The Korea Baseball Organization said through Tuesday's games, 6,810,926 fans have gone to see the eight teams in the top baseball competition, surpassing the previous record of 6,810,028 last year. The league office said the three games on Tuesday drew 25,900 fans at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul, Munhak Stadium in Incheon and Daegu Baseball Stadium in Daegu.
It marked the fourth consecutive season in which the KBO has broken the single-season attendance record, and the sixth consecutive season in which the attendance figure has increased on a year-to-year basis.
With 35 games left in this regular season, the KBO is on pace to surpass the 7-million mark for the first time in its 30-year history.
Through Monday, the KBO teams averaged 13,734 fans per home game, up 7 percent from last year's per-game average of 12,801.
Also through Monday, 111 games had been sold out, already better than 100 sellouts from last season.
Among individual clubs, the Lotte Giants became the first KBO team ever to draw more than 1 million fans for five straight seasons. They had 1.35 million home fans through Monday.
The Doosan Bears and the LG Twins, the two Seoul-based teams who share Jamsil Stadium as their home, ranked next with 1.23 million and 1.15 million, respectively.
The SK Wyverns were fourth with 1.04 million fans, as they enjoyed their first season with at least 1 million home fans.
These four teams are based in the league's three largest stadiums. Lotte's home, Sajik Stadium in Busan, sits 28,500, followed by SK's Munhak Stadium in Incheon with 27,800 and Jamsil with 27,000.
The Nexen Heroes, who play at 14,000-seat Mokdong Stadium in western Seoul with no outfield stands, set a franchise record with 568,091 fans through Monday. Since the team joined the KBO in 2008, the home attendance has risen every season.
The Heroes were among the league's top clubs in the first half of this year, which helped draw fans to the smallish park, and reached first place in May thanks to the franchise-record eight-game winning streak. But they faded quickly in the second half, slowed by injuries to key players. The Heroes were in fifth place as of Monday.
The popularity of pro baseball here has been bolstered by South Korea's success at recent international competitions. The country won the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and finished runner-up to Japan at the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
In 2008, the teams drew 5.25 million fans, surpassing the 5-million mark for only the second time in league history, and the figure reached 5.92 million the next season. In 2011, 6.8 million fans went to see their favorite baseball clubs in action.
For next season, the expansion NC Dinos, based in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, will join the KBO. The schedule will expand from 532 games to 576 games in 2013. (Yonhap News)