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New baseball team to be called 'Wiz'

All Headlines 11:21 May 07, 2013

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, May 7 (Yonhap) -- The new professional baseball club set to join the top league in 2015 will be called the "Wiz," team officials announced Tuesday.

KT, the nation's largest fixed line operator which will run the 10th team in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), said the Wiz, short for the word "wizard," was the winner of a naming contest.

KT received the KBO's approval for expansion in January this year and will spend 2014 in the minor competition called the Futures League before joining nine other clubs in the KBO in 2015. The Wiz will be based in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, just south of Seoul.

According to KT officials, 32,000 people submitted entries in the naming contest, and a 32-year-old fan named Lee Beom-joon was picked as the winner. For his prize, Lee will receive a lifetime season ticket for the Wiz's home games at Suwon Stadium, starting in the team's inaugural KBO season, officials added.

"Following reviews by branding experts and baseball fans, the words 'KT Wiz' were easy to pronounce and conjured up a positive image, such as skilled players that are fun to watch," KT said. "We believed the nickname was in line with the image that KT wants to pursue."

In North American sports, Washington is home to the NBA team called "the Wizards."

The Wiz will be the KBO's second expansion club in three seasons. This year, the NC Dinos, based in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, joined the league as the ninth club.

In South Korea, most professional sports teams are owned and operated by private companies, including major conglomerates such as Samsung, LG and Doosan.

Suwon had been the home of the now-defunct Hyundai Unicorns, which played there from 2000 to 2007 and won the KBO championships in 2000, 2003 and 2004.

The Unicorns folded under financial hardships in late 2007 and eventually became the Nexen Heroes, which are now based in Seoul.

Baseball's popularity has skyrocketed since the Unicorns' demise. The KBO, which started in 1982, has broken its own single-season attendance record in each of the past four seasons and drew nearly 7.2 million fans last year. Also in 2012, the KBO posted a record 35 billion won (US$31.9 million) in baseball-related revenue from television contracts, corporate sponsorships and merchandise sales.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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