Posted April. 02, 2009 08:48,
It was great to play baseball at PETCO Park in San Diego and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Not only were the facilities excellent, they were very well maintained. The ground was soft and the conditions were a far cry from those at Korean baseball stadiums.
Cleanup hitter Kim Tae-kyun (Hanwha Eagles), who led Korea to the final of the World Baseball Classic last month, said baseball stadiums in Korea are dangerous for players. Players are vulnerable to injury due to aged facilities and hard conditions on the ground, he said.
Most baseball stadiums in Korea were built 20 to 40 years ago. Both players and fans are at risk of injury.
Korea finished second in the WBC and won the gold medal in last years Beijing Olympics, so it is a shame that baseball facilities in the country are in such poor conditions.
The Dong-A Ilbo yesterday acquired a report on the safety situations at baseball stadiums released by the National Emergency Management Agency through ruling Grand National Party lawmaker Kim Tae-won, who also serves on the parliamentary committee on public administration and security.
The survey found many fire extinguishers were out of order and cracks spotted at steps in infield sections requiring repair.
The agency conducted the sample survey at seven baseball stadiums including Jamsil (built in 1982), Mokdong (1989), Daegu (1948) and Gwangju (1965) over three days from March 23. The stadiums are managed by municipal governments, and the survey was the first safety inspection of the facilities conducted by the central government.
○ Cracks on steps, broken dugouts
The survey found Gwangju Stadium is in the worst condition. Many parts of the walls and surface are damaged while steel reinforcement bars are corroded at the 44-year-old stadium. Steps dividing designated seats and first base had cracks, while those dividing third base and the outfield had holes. Gwangju City has begun repair work.
At Daegu Baseball Stadium, the oldest in the country, cracks were found on walls and floor of the dugout at the third base side. Some steel re-bars were eroded. The Daegu city government began repairs under a remodeling project, including on spectator seats.
Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul was found vulnerable to fire since fire extinguishers were not adequately refilled. Mokdong Baseball Stadium, where the Golden Lions Cup National Baseball Championship is underway, has a useless steel sheet exposed on infield side seats.
○ Need for repairs
The safety agency said, These facilities require regular repair in addition to regular safety checks every three years. Though no grave risks exist such as possibility of a collapse, the facilities require constant maintenance and repair because of their age.
As such, experts say the Culture, Sports and Tourism Ministry, the Korean Baseball Organization or municipal governments must remodel old baseball stadiums or reconstruct them.
Korean Baseball Organization Commissioner Yoo Young-koo said, Several baseball stadiums in the provinces are so poor that theyre suitable only for amateurs. We will consult with the central and municipal governments to construct new baseball parks with good facilities.
Ruling Grand National Party lawmaker Kang Seung-kyu, who is also chairman of the Korea Baseball Association, said he would seek legislation to build new stadiums and invest in facilities by mobilizing the Seoul Olympics Sports Promotion Fund and other resources.