There was a decisive blow’ after the curtain-down of KCC’s ‘Train to Busan’
‘Ready to go to Busan? Absurd!
Professional basketball KCC ends its 22-year era in Jeonju and opens a new era in Busan. When ‘Busan KCC’ was approved at the Korea Basketball League (KBL) board of directors meeting on the 30th of last month, Jeonju City and local organizations are protesting against it.
There is no way the KCC team could not have anticipated this backlash. Nevertheless, there is a behind-the-scenes story behind the promotion of Train to Busan. As a result of Sports Chosun’s coverage of ‘KCC Train to Busan’, it was last April that strange trends began. At a meeting with Jeonju City officials, an influential figure suggested that KCC build a new gym. As a kind of ‘payment by donation’, the cost of building the gym was to be compensated by receiving a reduction in gym usage fees every year.
For the club, it was absurd to say ‘cover the construction costs’ after the promise to build a new stadium had been lagging for eight years, and after an internal review, it was an unacceptable proposal. Among professional basketball stadiums, Wonju Sports Complex, which opened most recently (2013), has a project cost of 50 billion won. Although the price was different from 10 years ago, the annual usage fee forgiveness was calculated based on 50 billion won, so it took 200 to 300 years to recover the principal amount of the project cost.
From this point on, KCC was deeply offended. It is said that he even thought, “Jeonju City has no intention of building a gym.” The final blow occurred in May and June. In May, Jeonju City and the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) began full-fledged plans to build a baseball stadium on the Jangdong Sports Complex site, and held a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of Jeonju Athletics Stadium and Baseball Stadium on June 27.
In this process, KCC’s ‘feeling of betrayal’ reached its peak as the specific plan for the gymnasium, which had been planned for eight years ago, was put on the back burner. Meanwhile, an ‘incident’ occurred that drove a wedge into the ‘decision to break up’, and that was the notification from Chonbuk National University and Jeonju City that ‘the Jeonju Indoor Gymnasium site must be vacated immediately after the 2024-2025 season for the Innovation Park development project.’
KCC, which had decided to relocate, did not initially have Busan in mind. We prioritized the metropolitan area and consulted with some local governments. However, KBL’s position had to be taken into consideration. If professional sports were to take advantage of the phenomenon of being concentrated in the metropolitan area, not only would other clubs not be happy about it, but KBL’s position could also be in trouble. In the end, the consideration of relocating to the metropolitan area was abandoned early, and the city of Busan expressed its intention in mid-August. In the meantime, Gunsan City hoped to attract a hometown city with good support conditions, but Busan City, which could attract more spectators and attract box office hits in order to grow the overall basketball game, was far superior in competitiveness.
Busan City greatly welcomed KCC’s proposal as the old Dayone (predecessor of Goyang Sono) had hoped to attract a new buyer when Sono was founded but had failed. For this reason, the consultation between KCC and Busan City went smoothly. Just before leaving for a business trip to China on August 23, KCC general manager Choi Hyeong-gil met with a high-ranking official of Busan City and received a promise of ‘full support’ before leaving after completing ‘Train to Busan’, and upon returning to Korea (28th) immediately applied for submission of the agenda to the KBL Board of Directors.
When news became known that KCC’s transfer of connections had been submitted to the board of directors, a high-ranking official from Jeonju City urgently visited Seoul and KBL and requested ‘to withhold approval of the agenda.’ However, since the approval of the board of directors is not determined by the KBL but by the resolution of the 10 clubs, Jeonju City’s response was a meaningless ‘backdoor’. Moreover, KCC’s heart had already left for Busan.
A KCC team official said, “We would like to repeatedly apologize to the Jeonju basketball fans. However, as some local civic groups claim, we did not decide in advance to relocate and promote it under an excuse.”