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Baseball league eyes attendance record

All Headlines 14:12 March 29, 2017

SEOUL, March 29 (Yonhap) -- The nation's top baseball league has set its sights on breaking the single season attendance record for the third straight season.

The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) said Wednesday that its attendance target for the 2017 season is just over 8.78 million, up from 8.34 million in 2016.

The league came up with the number after combining target figures for all 10 clubs.

Baseball has been the country's most popular sport in recent years. The KBO surpassed the 7 million mark for the first time in 2012 with 7.16 million, before the number dipped to 6.44 million the following year. After a slight increase to 6.51 million in 2014, the league established a new record with 7.36 million in 2015 and outdid itself with 8.34 million last year.

The teams will each play 144 games this season, which will get under way Friday. They will have to average 12,203 fans a game to reach their overall target.

Fans cheer on the Nexen Heroes in their KBO preseason game against the Samsung Lions at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on March 26, 2017. (Yonhap)

Among individual clubs, the Doosan Bears, the two-time reigning champions, and the LG Twins both said they'll try to attract 1.2 million fans.

They share Seoul's Jamsil Stadium as their home.

The Bears led the KBO with 1.17 million home fans last year and became the first Korean professional sports franchise to draw at least 1 million fans in eight straight seasons.

The Lotte Giants still own the KBO record for attendance in a season with 1.37 million from 2012. They haven't surpassed the 1 million plateau since then but with the return of former MVP-winning slugger Lee Dae-ho from the Seattle Mariners, the Giants said their target is to get back to seven figures.

Among other clubs, the NC Dinos, the Nexen Heroes, the Kia Tigers, the Samsung Lions and the KT Wiz all said they'll try to break their franchise records for attendance in a season.

The Hanwha Eagles, who drew 660,472 fans last season, said their goal is to get to 645,000 this year.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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