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Professional baseball aims to draw record 7.1 mln fans this year

All Headlines 14:19 April 01, 2012

SEOUL, April 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's top professional baseball league expects to attract a record 7.1 million fans this season, up 4 percent from last year, the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) said Sunday.

Buoyed by an unprecedented wave of popularity, professional baseball games drew some 6.8 million fans to ballparks last year, marking an all-time single season record. The 2012 season is set to kick off on Saturday.

The average attendance per game is also expected to rise to 13,346 fans this year from an average attendance of 12,081 last season, according to a report by the KBO, the governing body for the professional league of baseball.

The report was based on a compilation of fan targets set by the league's eight teams.

Seoul-based Doosan Bears aims to attract the highest number of 1.3 million fans to its home field this year, followed by the target of 1.25 million of LG Twins, also based in Seoul.

Lotte Giants, based in the second largest city of Busan, set a target of 1.2 million fans, the report said. Last year's winner, Samsung Lions, based in Daegu, aims to draw 550,000 fans.

Despite the increase of the game's popularity last year, the image of professional baseball league was tarnished by an ongoing match-fixing scandal.

Last month, the KBO apologized to fans over the scandal, and imposed lifetime suspensions on two pitchers who were implicated. The match-fixing scandal was the first of its kind to hit the league since its inception in 1982.

Kim Seong-hyun and Park Hyun-jun, both of LG Twins, were suspended indefinitely. Kim was taken into custody for allegedly taking kickbacks from a gambling broker to intentionally issue first-inning walks, and Park partially admitted to his involvement.

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