Why should the opening game of Korean professional baseball be held in the United States?

KBO (Korea Baseball Organization) is promoting the opening game of the 2024 KBO League in the United States. However, it is difficult to understand why the opening game of domestic professional baseball should be held in the United States.

KBO President Heo Gu-yeon departed for the United States on the 12th. President Heo encouraged the WBC national team and met with the owner and president of the San Diego Padres, but the most important schedule was discussions with officials to host the 2024 demonstration game and opening match in the United States. According to the KBO, President Huh met with Los Angeles Angels President John Carpino and Los Angeles Dodgers Marketing Manager Ron Lawson, and discussed overall matters regarding holding an exhibition match between KBO League clubs and MLB clubs. They requested a plan to fully allow the KBO to have the rights to advertisements and promotions. He also met with the Consulate General in Los Angeles and the Director of the Korean Cultural Center in the United States to reveal the background and plans for the opening ceremony in the United States in 2024, asking for cooperation. In addition, he met with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and requested full support and cooperation from the MLB Secretariat when the opening game was held in 2024.

President Heo Gu-yeon is very motivated to host the 2024 KBO League opening game in the United States. President Huh did not suddenly push for the U.S. event to be held. Since his appointment as president, he has been paying attention to and showing great interest in the ‘globalization’ of the KBO league through constant exchanges with MLB and overseas games. Looking at his actions, this plan is ‘sincere’.스포츠토토

However, the fans’ reaction was lukewarm. Even after the KBO’s press release, reactions from various online communities were negative. Most of the questions were, “Why do we have to play the opening match in the United States?” It is inevitable that it is difficult to find sufficient justification for holding the opening game of the KBO League in the United States. I can’t convince the fans. Of course, not all projects can be left to the flow of public opinion. There were many cases in which negative public opinion changed to the opposite atmosphere when the project was completed. However, it is necessary to pay attention to the reaction of fans like this.

In fact, it is not very rare to hold an overseas opening match or a special match abroad. Overseas tours of famous football clubs are common. Of course, most of them are event-type matches. However, the closest example, the major leagues, held regular season opening games in Japan and Australia, and in 2019, even though it was not the opening game, in the middle of the regular season, the major league game was held at the Olympic Stadium in London, England for the first time in continental Europe. Major League Baseball plans to play regular season games in Mexico and London this year as well. The major leagues are putting their life and death on the ‘globalization of baseball’.

The KBO League also deserves support for making new attempts abroad for the globalization of baseball and the revival of baseball popularity in Korea. However, being held in the US is another matter. In the starting point of the professional baseball league and the home of the major leagues, it is difficult for the KBO league to create a big sensation locally.

It hurts our pride to be objectively evaluated as below a few numbers, but it is an unavoidable reality. When the major leagues were stopped due to the Corona 19 pandemic, there was a time when the KBO League game was broadcast live across the United States and received a spotlight, but as the major leagues resumed after that, the interest rapidly faded. In fact, it is bound to be a game for Koreans living in the United States, KBO League fans who will cheer for the away, and some Hallyu fans. Considering the hosting costs that the KBO will have to pay and the team’s conditioning issues that must be adjusted after returning to Korea after playing the opening game in the United States, it seems that there will be more bleeding than gains.

Of course, it may be unreasonable to already conclude all the results, such as marketing or promotional effects of companies. Also, showing the status of the KBO League in the country of the major leagues will be rewarding regardless of whether it is a box office hit or not. However, it is difficult to shake off the question of whether this method is the best for the real revival of domestic baseball popularity.

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