President Chen says he would have built sports arena in city

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Sat, Nov 24, 2001 - Page 2

The Taipei Sports Dome (巨蛋體育場) would have been built and would have hosted the 34th Baseball World Cup if President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) had won the 1998 election for Taipei mayor, the president said yesterday.

At a luncheon for the Chinese Taipei Baseball Team held at the Presidential Office, Chen hailed the team's 24 players as national heroes.

As the president and the players chatted over lunch, pitcher Chang Chih-chia (張誌家) told the president that it was the team's wish to see the proposed Taipei Sports Dome built in the near future.

Chen replied that the dome almost became a reality while he was Taipei mayor in 1998.

"The project, the planning for which is complete, has been ignored for the past three years," said Chen. "The fact is, the project to build the indoor multi-purpose facility was ready when I was still Taipei mayor. If I had not lost the election, the dome would already have been built and this year's World Cup would have been held in it."

Plans for the dome, first proposed in 1992, have been repeatedly undone by failures to find an appropriate site.

A current proposal to build it on the site of the Sungshan Tobacco Factory is being considered by the Taipei City and central governments.

The president said that he followed every single game that Taiwan's team played during the World Cup and was particularly impressed by the performance of the team's pitchers, Chang Chih-chia and Tsai Chung-nan (蔡仲南), as well as left fielder Chen Ching-fong (陳金鋒).

In the team's final game, the contest for third place against Japan, Chang, who is still performing his military service, pitched a perfect game against a line-up of stars drawn from Japan's professional leagues. He struck out five while giving up only five hits, helping Taiwan to its second bronze medal in the tournament and fourth medal overall.

Tsai Chung-nan (蔡仲南) carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning to lift Taiwan to a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands in the quarterfinals. The win put Taiwan into the semifinals for the first time since 1988.

Left fielder Chen Ching-fong, who plays for the Los Angeles Dodgers' minor league team, batted in all the runs with two homers to lift Taiwan to a 3-0 victory over Japan for the bronze.

After winning the bronze medal, several members of Taiwan's team found themselves in demand for appearances at election campaign events.

For example, Chang, who is in the midst of completing his mandatory military service, has been invited to join the campaigns of all three of Taichung City's mayoral candidates, but has thus far declined all of those invitations.

The Military Law prevents soldiers from participating in campaign activities or voicing support for particular candidates.