(ATTN: ADDS comments in last 4 paras, 4th photo)
By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, Feb. 1 (Yonhap) -- Searching for a new nickname after purchasing a professional baseball club, South Korean retailer Shinsegae Group said Monday it has applied for a trademark on a name inspired by its home appliance shop.
Shinsegae said it has sent in a trademark application for Electros, taken from its Electro Mart chain.
Shinsegae acquired the SK Wyverns of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) in a surprise deal announced last Tuesday. E-Mart, the country's biggest discount store chain run by Shinsegae, will take over from the No. 1 mobile carrier, SK Telecom, for 135.2 billion won (US$121 million).
KBO clubs are mostly owned and run by large business corporations. Their parent company's name comes in front of the nickname, with the SK Wyverns themselves being an example. Under the new ownership, the team will get an entirely different name.
SSG is expected to be the company name in front, taken from Shinsegae's online mall, SSG.com.
Shinsegae said it felt it needed to get Electros trademarked during its discussions for a new team name. One Shinsegae official said talks are ongoing and the group is open to all possibilities, including maintaining the current name.
The Wyverns opened their final spring training under the current name later Monday on the southern island of Jeju. The team's general manager, Ryu Sun-kyu, said two Shinsegae executives in charge of the baseball club acquisition visited with the team earlier in the day.
"They talked to us about why Shinsegae Group decided to purchase our team and the group's philosophy behind the move," Ryu said. "Our players and coaches have high expectations about what Shinsegae Group can do for us."
The two Shinsegae executives also told the team that "Electros" is one of the candidates for the new name and that nothing has been finalized.
"We told them our fans love our red uniform and black hats because they're the symbols of our dynasty," Ryu added, referring to the Wyverns' run of winning three championships in four seasons from 2007 to 2010. "But Shinsegae will make the final call."
The transaction will be finalized on Feb. 23.
Ryu said the team will start wearing a temporary, non-SK uniform starting with unofficial practice games on March 5. The goal is to have the new Shinsegae uniform ready by the start of the exhibition season, around March 20.
SK manager Kim Won-hyong told reporters Monday that he'll make sure the impending sale won't be a distraction for his players.
"I am going to put these guys through a lot of drills here," Kim said. "If we keep moving toward the common goal during spring training, we should be well prepared for the start of the new season."
On a personal level, Kim is experiencing a team sale for the second time. He was pitching for the Ssangbangwool Raiders in 2000 when the team was sold due to financial strain and SK stepped in as the new owner. The major difference: the writing was on the wall for the Raiders' future back then because of the club's financial situation, but few on the Wyverns, if any, saw the sale to Shinsegae coming.
"This one came as a shock because I never expected we'd be sold," Kim said. "But once I learned more about why Shinsegae Group was buying us, I had high expectations. I believe the group will run our ball club really well."
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