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Pro baseball attendance drops during World Cup

All Headlines 10:55 June 30, 2014

SEOUL, June 30 (Yonhap) -- The country's top professional baseball league has seen its attendance drop nearly 15 percent since the start of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil earlier this month, officials said on Monday, noting that the decrease hasn't been as large as initially feared.

According to the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), the average attendance per game from the start of the World Cup on June 13 through Sunday -- a span of 59 games -- amounted to 10,648.

In the previous 248 games, the KBO teams averaged 12,508 fans per game, according to the league.

In total, prior to the World Cup, the KBO drew 3.1 million fans, a 5 percent increase over last year's figure during the same stretch.

The KBO has suffered drops in attendance in virtually every World Cup year, though in 2010, the final season attendance went up by about 3,000 fans compared to the previous year.

Despite the recent decrease, the KBO teams for the season are still drawing slightly more fans in 2014 than they did in 2013 after the same number of games.

The league said 3.73 million fans have gone to stadiums after 307 games, up from 3.65 million fans last year.

Also, the World Cup-induced drop hasn't been as dramatic as it was during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, when the attendance fell by 27.8 percent.

In South Africa, South Korea finished second in its group and reached the round of 16, where it lost to Uruguay 2-1. This year, however, South Korea finished last in its group with one draw and two losses, for its first winless World Cup since 1998.

The team returned home earlier Monday and some frustrated fans threw candies at the players and coaches at Incheon International Airport.

The football team's demise might have been a blessing for the KBO teams, said Ryu Dae-hwan, director of public relations at the KBO.

"The World Cup matches have been held in the wee hours of the morning our time, and because the Korean team struggled, the World Cup didn't have too big of an impact on baseball," he said. "The Lotte Giants and the Kia Tigers, two of the most popular clubs, have played well of late, and that seems to have helped stop the slide somewhat."

The KBO enjoyed six straight seasons of increase in attendance from 2007 to 2012, setting a single-season record with 7.16 million fans in 2012. The figure dropped to 6.44 million fans last year, and Ryu noted that the league could get over the 7 million plateau once again in 2014.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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