The Best Team in Korean Baseball is filling the stadium more than ever!
Michelle Cho, April 21, 2017, 11:14 a.m.
The best team in South Korean baseball has enjoyed the biggest jump in attendance so far this season, data showed Friday. The Korea Baseball Organization said through Thursday's action, the Kia Tigers have drawn 105,530 fans in their eight home games so far, an increase of 47 percent from 2016. After the same number of home games last year, the Tigers, based in Gwangju, had drawn just under 72,000 fans at their 22,000-seat Gwangju Kia Champions Field.
The Tigers are in first place with a 13-3 record, three games up on two clubs: the NC Dinos and the KT Wiz. The Tigers were the first team to reach double figures in victories this year. Over the league's history, teams that reached 10 wins for the season before anyone else have gone on to win the pennant 39 percent of the time. On eight occasions, such clubs went on to win both the pennant and the Korean Series, most recently the Doosan Bears last season. The Tigers added outfielder Choi Hyoung-woo, the reigning league batting champion and runner-up in the MVP voting, via free agency. In attendance, the Lotte Giants have enjoyed a 22 percent increase from last year with 170,395 fans in 11 home games so far at Sajik Stadium in Busan.
The Giants, who have not been to the postseason since 2012, brought back their franchise star Lee Dae-ho, former MVP-winning slugger who'd spent the past several years in Japan and in the majors. Once the biggest draw in the KBO, the Giants have struggled to fill the seats in recent years before bouncing back to open the 2017 season. The Bears, playing at the 26,000-seat Jamsil Stadium in Seoul, are leading the KBO in attendance with 170,415 fans in a dozen home games. The two-time defending champions have led the KBO in attendance in each of the past two seasons. The Wiz, a third-year franchise off to a strong start this year, have seen their attendance go up 8 percent from last season, with 75,842 fans in eight games at Suwon KT Wiz Park in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province.
Overall, though, six of the 10 teams have seen their attendance drop from a year ago, and the KBO's total attendance is 8 percent lower than at this point in 2016, with 903,344 through 85 games.