Australian league plans CPBL club

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Sep 05, 2018 - Page 16

The Australian Baseball League (ABL) has proposed forming a new team in the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) that would start in the minor league, but eventually play in the major league.

ABL CEO Cam Vale and CPBL commissioner Johnny Wu made a joint announcement at CPBL headquarters yesterday morning.

Last year, the CPBL announced new rules to try and interest Taiwanese businesses in forming league baseball teams, but Wu said that he had visited 20 businesses without finding one willing to start a team.

An amendment to the Sports Industry Development Act (運動產業發展條例), which the Legislative Yuan passed last year, also allows local governments and government agencies to put up a maximum of 50 percent of a sports team’s capital, Wu said, but added that no government agency had shown an interest either.

“With such a lack of interest, the ABL proposal is certainly good news, and gives us a new direction to consider,” Wu said. “We welcome any baseball team from around the world to join our league, in addition to teams sponsored by local businesses.”

The ABL proposal would be the CPBL’s first partnership with a league in a foreign country, Wu added.

Wu also said that the ABL has indicated an interest in playing in the CPBL’s minor league first before considering the possibility of joining the major league later on.

CPBL rules cover the creation of professional teams by local businesses, not leagues or teams from overseas, so that would be a challenge, Wu said.

“We will examine the ABL proposal and bring it up at our board meeting. Our concerns are what percentage of the Australian team will be Australian players and what percentage Taiwanese, whether the team would select players in the CPBL draft and how they would ensure the team’s sustainable development,” Wu said.

With the CPBL celebrating its 30th anniversary next year, Wu said he hopes that the Australian team would be able to join the minor league by then.

The two leagues have had productive talks over the past year as part of the planning process, Vale said.

“We still have a long way to go, but it is exciting for us as we submit the proposal to the CPBL today, with the aim of starting in the minor league and then moving up to the major league,” Vale said.

“We would be based in a Taiwanese city for the whole CPBL season,” he added.

Asked why the ABL chose the CPBL among all the other professional baseball leagues in Asia, Vale said that a key factor was the CPBL’s desire to expand its league.

The closeness between the countries and leagues made the CPBL “a better fit” for the Australian team than leagues in Japan or South Korea, he added.

A shared vision in the countries and leagues also strengthened their belief that the CPBL should be their No. 1 choice, he added.

The ABL would prefer a team composed of 70 percent Australian players and 30 percent Taiwanese, Vale said, adding that the Australian players would be top ABL players, players in the US system and those on the Australian national team.

The CPBL is one of the strongest professional leagues worldwide, Vale said, adding that joining the league would more closely connect Taiwan and Australia.