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Three of eight pro baseball teams turn profits in 2011: reports

All Headlines 11:18 July 19, 2012

SEOUL, July 19 (Yonhap) -- Fewer than half of baseball teams in the nation's top competition turned a profit last year, reports showed Thursday, despite the sport's recent run of massive popularity.

According to reports by the Financial Supervisory Service and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, three of the eight clubs in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) made profits in the fiscal year 2011. The Lotte Giants made 3.7 billion won (US$3.2 million), followed by the Doosan Bears with 2.3 billion won and the Samsung Lions with 1 billion won.

All eight KBO teams are owned by private companies, including major conglomerates such as Lotte, Doosan, Samsung, LG and SK.

The Nexen Heroes, a Seoul-based club owned by a tire manufacturer, had the worst performance both on and off the field last year. They bled 4.1 billion won in red in the account books, and finished dead last with 51 wins, 80 losses and two draws.

Reports showed that teams benefited largely from increased attendance in recent years. The rise in the sport's popularity has been attributed to South Korea's gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and its runner-up finish at the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

The KBO has set a single-season attendance record in each of the past three seasons, and is on pace to break the current standard of 7.15 million fans set last year.

The Lions, the 2011 champions, saw their gate revenue more than triple from 2.1 billion won in 2008 to 6.9 billion won last year.

However, officials said even the teams in black were largely aided by their parent companies, especially in advertising revenues.

The Lions, for instance, posted advertising revenue of 28.5 billion won last year, but other Samsung Group affiliates, Samsung Electronics and Samsung Life Insurance, provided 24.6 billion won of that money.

An official with the Giants said the club took about 11 billion won in advertising revenue.

"If you count that money as revenue from advertising, then we're in the black," the official said. "But if you see it as funding from the parent company, then we'd be in the red, too."

Experts say teams will have to become more financially independent and regional governments in teams' hometowns should provide more support to improve clubs' plight.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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