Tue, Jun 25, 2019 - Page 1 News List

CPBL welcomes back Dragons after 20 years

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

From left, Wei Chuan Dragons coach Huang Chiung-lung, team director David Wu, Ting Hsin Hede Foundation founder Wei Ying-chung, head coach Yeh Chun-chang and coach Chang Tai-shan give the thumbs-up at a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: CNA

After being disbanded 20 years ago, the Wei Chuan Dragons officially returned to the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) after a congress of representatives yesterday approved their re-entry.

The league made the announcement at a ceremony, which was attended by CPBL commissioner John Wu (吳志揚), Ting Hsin Hede Foundation founder Wei Ying-chung (魏應充) and Sports Administration Director-General Kao Chun-hsiung (高俊雄).

The Wei Chuan Dragons were one of the four founding teams when the league started in 1990, Wu said, adding that the league has seen teams come and go and changes in rules and regulations over the past 30 years.

Efforts over the past few years have paid off, as the league has succeeded in bringing back one of its founding teams, he said.

The league has had four competing teams for the past 10 years and many have been hoping that it would be expanded to accommodate more teams, he said.

However, the league has found it difficult to convince corporations to finance new teams, which cited economic concerns and a lack of transparency for new entrants to join the league, he said.

The league made public the rules for new entrants in 2017 and welcomed all interested parties, Wu added.

With Wei Chuan forming a fifth team, the league would incorporate them into its schedule after the league’s player draft on Monday next week, he said.

“We welcome any corporation interested in forming a sixth professional baseball team,” Wu said.

“My colleagues and I would explain the rules of entry in detail and assist them in formulating a viable plan to join the league,” he added.

The Dragons’ home base would be Yunlin County’s Douliou City (斗六), Wei said.

Kao said the CPBL is also in charge of organizing major international baseball tournaments and training players to compete in them following an agreement it signed on Jan. 30 with the Chinese Taipei Baseball Association, with the aim of assembling the strongest national team possible.

The timing of the Dragons rejoining the CPBL could not be better, as the Sports Administration has helped revamp the facilities of 450 baseball fields or stadiums across the nation over the past five years, Kao said, adding that two new stadiums — one in Tainan and the other in Hsinchu — would soon be in use.

The Dragons won the CPBL championship in 1990, 1997, 1998 and 1999.

The club was disbanded in December 1999 after winning its third straight championship, as Ting Hsin International Group, which took over the management of Wei Chuan Group (味全集團), said it had no plans to finance a professional baseball team.

However, on April 29, Ting Hsin submitted a proposal for the Dragons to rejoin the league.

The move was widely seen as the group’s efforts to reshape its corporate image after its involvement in the tainted cooking oil scandal in 2013.

The league’s board of directors approved the team’s re-entry to the league on May 13.

Aside from paying franchising fees and other obligatory funds, the Dragons would begin by first playing in the minor league next year, but the club can still participate in the player draft session next week.

The team are to start playing in the major league in 2021.

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