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Baseball Playoff Fever Grips Busan

Posted October. 09, 2008 03:06,   


The second-largest city of Busan is engulfed in baseball fever, with the stellar success of its home team Lotte Giants this season.

The Sports Complex subway station in the vicinity of Sajik Stadium morphed into an art hall. Pictures of the Giants, their history and fans were pasted on the walls and pillars of the station’s four exits.

Likewise, all 334 electronic boards at Busan subway stations carried the phrase “Flying Over Autumn to the Championship.” Sajik Stadium also had five 10-meter seagull-shaped balloons symbolizing the Giants in the air.

Busan is also famous for its cheering, which often is more amusing than the game itself and can reach the level of a festival. Once the ballpark opened at 3 p.m. yesterday, fans stormed in to fill the 30,000 seats.

Prior to the game, they started chanting “Lotte” and “Busan Seagulls.” They also held newspapers, a unique form of cheering by Busan fans. Newspaper stands at the stadium entrance reportedly sold more than 15,000 copies.

The upbeat atmosphere was not limited to the stadium area. Bars were crowded with cheering customers.

Fans without tickets sat in front of the entrance and cheered for the Giants, watching the game on a 200-inch screen set up there.

A bar purchased a 100-inch projector and gave one bottle of beer for every Giants’ hit free to its customers, and pledged a 50-percent discount if the Giants won.

The Giants, however, lost 12-3 to the Samsung Lions in the first game of their best-of-five series.

A movie theater near the stadium gave a 2,000 won (1.42 U.S. dollars) discount to customers with tickets to the game. A musical organizing agency promised a 20-percent discount if the team advanced in the playoffs and half off if the Giants made it to the Korean Series.

Busan Bank attracted an army of customers who signed up for the bank’s baseball savings account, which saw 50 billion won (35.8 million dollars) in deposits in just nine days.

○ Scalpers make a killing

Three thousand Giants fans stood in line at the stadium from Tuesday morning to yesterday to get the remaining 4,000 available tickets. The remaining 26,000 tickets had sold out on the Internet in 30 minutes Saturday.

Business owner Min Yeong-geun said, “I’ve been here for 18 hours to watch the historic postseason game of the Giants.”

Another fan said, “I took a day off to get the ticket.”

When the tickets for Game 2 also sold out on the Internet, fans began to flock to ticket booths again after Game 1, intending to stay up all night there to get the remaining tickets.

The scarcity of tickets prompted scalpers to run loose around the stadium, demanding up to 60,000 won for a 15,000 won ticket. To prevent scalping, police officers and 100 security guards of the team were deployed around the stadium.