South Korean baseball officials were up in arms Friday against Seoul’s plan to relocate a professional club in the nation’s capital to a new domed stadium next year, accusing the city of reaching the decision unilaterally without prior consultation with the baseball community.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government on Thursday laid out a plan to move one of three Seoul-based Korea Baseball Organization clubs in 2013 to a dome currently under construction in Gocheok-dong, located in the southwestern part of the capital. The dome, which will be the first of its kind in the nation, is scheduled to be finished by late next year.
Of the eight KBO teams that competed in 2012, the Doosan Bears and the LG Twins play their home games at Jamsil Stadium in southern Seoul with 26,000 seats. The Nexen Heroes are based at the 14,000-seat Mokdong Stadium with no outfield seats in western Seoul.
Both stadiums are properties of Seoul, and the teams pay the metropolitan government annual fees for their use.
Officials from the KBO and the three clubs on Friday said Seoul came up with the relocation plan without discussing the matter with them.
“The city never came to us to talk about this,” said Yang Hae-young, the secretary general of the KBO. “These Seoul teams pay to play at Jamsil and Mokdong, and the city seems to think it can do whatever it wants to do with the three clubs. I will have to sit down with general managers of the three teams over this matter.”
The construction work for the dome in Gocheok-dong began in February 2009. With monsoon seasons constantly forcing postponements of KBO games and affecting late-season schedules, baseball fans and officials had said a dome in South Korea was long overdue.
The initial plan was to build it as a half-dome stadium. Later in 2009, however, then Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon modified the plan to make it a complete dome, at the height of baseball’s popularity in the country following South Korea’s runner-up finish at the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
The change pushed back the expected completion date from summer of 2012 to late 2013, and also resulted in extra costs. The budget for the construction is about 202 billion won ($186 million). The new dome will have about 22,000 seats, Seoul officials have said.