A South Korean expansion baseball team expressed its displeasure Wednesday with the site its home city has selected for its new stadium, saying that the decision was "political" and did not take into account public opinion.
Changwon, an industrial city in South Gyeongsang Province, home of the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), announced earlier in the day that it will build a new ballpark on the land formerly occupied by the Army College in nearby Jinhae district.
It's located south of downtown Changwon.
Changwon had three candidate sites for the new ballpark but critics argue that the city chose the location that is the least accessible to the public.
The Dinos, which will join the top league as the ninth team this season, said in a statement that Changwon's decision "was difficult to accept."
"The city's selection of Jinhae as the location was based on political interests and it wasn't for the people," the Dinos said.
"This is a type of decision that imposes inconveniences on the very people who were excluded from the decision-making process."
The Dinos are the KBO's first expansion club since 1991. When the league gave the Dino's the final green light in March 2011, Changwon pledged to build a new ballpark with at least 25,000 seats by 2016. Until the new stadium is built, the Dinos will play its home games at the recently renovated Masan Stadium, which can seat 20,000 spectators.
The Dinos have not said which particular location they prefer.
The team only said Wednesday that they were disappointed with Changwon and that the city reneged on its promise to "build a ballpark on the best possible location."
Changwon is an amalgamation of three municipalities: Changwon, Jinhae and Masan. The names Jinhae and Masan now refer to districts within what is now one large city, which has a population of 1.1 million.
Critics of Changwon's decision say the move is somehow linked to the tug-of-war between the old municipalities of Changwon and Masan over the locations for the new city hall and the provincial government office.
Integrated Changwon is still using the old Changwon municipality's city hall building. Critics argue that for the sake of balance, new Changwon will seek to open the new city hall in downtown Changwon and will relocate the provincial office from the old Changwon municipality to what used to be Masan. Old Jinhae will then get the new ball stadium to complete the equation.
On Wednesday, the KBO also expressed its "regrets" over Changwon's decision. Last week, the league office had pressured the city to carry out its pledge to complete the stadium by 2016 and had warned that the Dinos could be relocated to another city if the promise is not kept.
The KBO said Wednesday it has asked Changwon to provide a detailed explanation on how it reached its decision to select Jinhae as the location of the ballpark.
"In March 2011, when Changwon applied to host the new baseball team, it had promised in writing that it will gather opinions of experts and the public to choose the optimal site for the new stadium," the KBO said in a statement. "We'd expected all along that Changwon would rule out political consideration and take into account accessibility and other pressing issues, but the city has let us down."