Baseball officials approve of TSG’s Kaohsiung franchise

  • By Jason Pan / Staff Reporter

Baseball officials said on Friday that a franchise formed by Taiwan Steel Group (TSG) would join CPBL and be based in Kaohsiung.

TSG outbid Chunghwa Telecom, which had also requested an expansion franchise in Taiwan’s professional baseball league.

CPBL commissioner Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) said TSG’s bid was accepted on the condition that it pay franchise fees and submit a business plan, adding that team management plans to submit them after a meeting of its owners in May.

Photo courtesy of Kaohsiung City Government

He would join the mid-season player draft in July, Tsai said.

It would also hire coaches and staff and upgrade its baseball stadium, Chengching Lake Stadium, he added.

He would play in the league’s second tier next year before joining the top flight in 2024, he said.

TSG chairman Hsieh Yu-min (謝裕民) is expected to submit the team’s official letter of intent on Wednesday, Tsai added.

Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) reiterated the city’s support for the new team after it was approved.

“Our city’s sports fans have been waiting for the return of professional baseball for a long time,” Chen said, adding that Kaohsiung would soon have professional teams in Taiwan’s two most popular sports, basketball and baseball.

The central government has approved and allocated funds for an extension of the Yellow Line of the MRT rail system from Kaohsiung to Niaosong District (鳥松), where a station would be built near the baseball stadium, he said. .

Chen said he had a meeting with Tsai and Hsieh last week to discuss how the city can support team operations, including assistance with ballpark upgrades.

CPBL said team owners should pay NT$580 million (US$20.7 million) to the league – NT$120 million in franchise fees, a deposit of $360 million NT and NT$100 million to promote baseball in schools and grassroots teams – citing approval procedures in place since the Wei Chuan Dragons returned in 2019 as the league’s fifth team.

With the new CPBL franchise, TSG would become the first commercial conglomerate to operate teams in Taiwan’s three major sports leagues. It also owns TSG GhostHawks in the basketball T1 League and Taiwan Steel, the reigning Taiwan Football Premier League champions.

Tsai said Chunghwa Telecom pulled out of the bidding process after evaluating a potential team for three years, citing a lack of experience managing a professional baseball team.

CPBL will open its season the first weekend in April with the CTBC Brothers, last year’s champions, hosting the Uni-President Lions.

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