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Baseball club renews sponsorship deal with local firm, diffuses controversy

All Headlines 10:31 November 05, 2015

SEOUL, Nov. 5 (Yonhap) -- The Nexen Heroes will still be called the Nexen Heroes next season, after all.

The Seoul-based Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) club said they have extended their main sponsorship deal with local company Nexen Tires for three years, renewing a relationship that has lasted six seasons.

Financial terms were not disclosed, though the new deal is reportedly worth 10 billion won ($US8.81 million) per year, about double the amount of their previous deal.

In the process, the Heroes diffused controversy over their potential agreement with J Trust Group, a Japan-based financial company with past money-lending ties.

The Heroes faced heat last month when it was revealed that they were in talks with J Trust Group. The company caused a stir in South Korea in September when popular actress Ko So-young severed commercial ties with the group's money-lending subsidiaries amid outcry.

J Trust Group has denied its money-lending connection, saying, "We have 26 subsidiaries all over Asia, but not one is doing the money-lending business we are accused of."

The Heroes, which will move into the brand new Gocheok Sky Dome starting next season, decided they'd rather not deal with the PR headache as they hope to start fresh at a new home park, and went back to the table with Nexen Tires.

"I'd like to thank Nexen Tires for agreeing to extend our sponsorship deal," said the Heroes' CEO Lee Jang-seok. "I am so grateful for the interest and concerns expressed by our fans in our negotiating process. I also want to thank J Trust Group for making sincere offers not only to sponsor our ball club but to help improve professional sports in South Korea."

The Heroes, which joined the KBO in 2008 in place of the bankrupt Hyundai Unicorns, have been the league's only club without corporate ownership. The Heroes have survived by selling naming rights to the club, first to local company Woori Tobacco.

The Heroes were without a sponsor for about 18 months and were simply called the Heroes, before Nexen Tires stepped in.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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