Baseball officials on Friday said that a franchise formed by Taiwan Steel Group (TSG) would join the CPBL and be based in Kaohsiung.
TSG outbid Chunghwa Telecom, which had also applied for an expansion franchise in Taiwan’s professional baseball league.
CPBL commissioner Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) said that TSG’s application was accepted under the condition that it pay the franchise fee and submit a business plan, adding that the team’s management expects to submit those after a meeting of its owners in May.
Photo courtesy of the Kaohsiung City Government
It would join the mid-season players’ draft in July, Tsai said.
It would also hire coaches and staff, and upgrade its ballpark, the Chengching Lake Stadium, he added.
It would play in the league’s second division next year before joining the top flight in 2024, he said.
TSG chairman Hsieh Yu-min (謝裕民) is expected to submit the team’s formal letter of intent on Wednesday, Tsai added.
Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) reiterated the city’s support for the new team after it was approved.
“Sports fans in our city have waited a long time for the return of professional baseball,” Chen said, adding that Kaohsiung would soon have professional teams in Taiwan’s two most popular sports, basketball and baseball.
The central government has approved and allocated funds for an extension of the Yellow Line of Kaohsiung’s MRT rail system to Niaosong District (鳥松), where a station would be built near the ballpark, he said.
Chen said he had a meeting with Tsai and Hsieh last week to discuss how the city can support the team’s operations, including assistance with upgrades at the ballpark.
The CPBL said that the team’s owners would have to pay NT$580 million (US$20.7 million) to the league — NT$120 million in franchise fees, a NT$360 million deposit and NT$100 million to promote baseball at schools and grassroots-level teams — citing approval procedures in place since the 2019 return of the Wei Chuan Dragons as the league’s fifth team.
With the new CPBL franchise, TSG would become the first business conglomerate to operate teams in Taiwan’s three main sports leagues. It also owns the TSG GhostHawks in basketball’s T1 League and Taiwan Steel, the Taiwan Football Premier League’s defending champions.
Tsai said that Chunghwa Telecom bowed out of the bidding process after evaluating a potential team for three years, citing a lack of experience in managing a professional baseball team.
The CPBL is to open its season on the first weekend in April with the CTBC Brothers, last year’s champions, hosting the Uni-President Lions.
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