Friday, December 28, 2007

By Kang Seung-woo
Staff Reporter

KT has become a savior for the beleaguered Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) by joining the Korean league as its eighth member.

KBO commissioner Shin Sang-woo announced Thursday that the communications service provider and the baseball governing have agreed on establishing a new baseball team.

As the company opted for a new team instead of buying the Hyundai Unicorns, which are suffering from serious financial problems, the four-time Korean Series champion has ended its short but impressive 12-year history.

``As KT will organize a new club, it will pay about 6 billion won ($6 million) as a membership fee,'' Shin said.

The amount is one sixth of the 43 billion won which the Unicorns paid for taking over the Taepyungyang Dolphins in 1996. The SK Wyverns paid 25 billion won when they joined the league in 2000.

The new member will be based in Seoul, which already has two franchise teams, the LG Twins and the Doosan Bears, and use Mokdong Baseball Stadium as its home field.

The ballpark is under remodeling at a cost of 5 billion won by the Seoul Metropolitan City

KT has already begun to recruit for the team and will decide on a name and emblem as well as holding an organizing ceremony in January.

However, KT has still has a long way to go to be ready for next season.

The KBO, which had only been bent on finding a replacement for the Unicorns, allowed the company to forego paying 5.4 billion won in compensation to the incumbent Seoul-based teams for taking Seoul as its franchise city.

``Although Commissioner Shin said he had sought seven teams' understanding, the board of directors just agreed on next season going with eight teams, and we didn't know that he would manage this issue on his own,'' LG Twins general manager Kim Yeon-joong said in an interview.

``I don't think KT can have the right to settle in Seoul without payment because it did not take over the Unicorns.''

The Unicorns acquired the right when they yielded their former home field in Incheon, to the Wyverns in 2000 and moved to Suwon but their financial troubles did not permit the team to leave their new home.

The Bears also have a similar opinion, saying, ``Too many benefits for KT can damage the rest of the league.''

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