Low Attendance at Dodgers & Padres Games Questions MLB Familiarity in Korea

MLB's Global Tour Faces Challenges in South Korea

by Nouman Rasool
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Low Attendance at Dodgers & Padres Games Questions MLB Familiarity in Korea
© Denis Poroy/Getty Images

In a groundbreaking effort to globalize America's pastime, Major League Baseball's (MLB) World Tour commenced its 2024 season with the highly anticipated "Seoul Series," featuring marquee matchups between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres in South Korea.

Despite integrating K-Pop cultural elements into its opening ceremonies, the exhibition matches preceding Opening Day experienced less than expected fan attendance, prompting discussions on the sport's popularity in the region.

Exhibition Games' Attendance

During these exhibition games, the Dodgers emerged victorious over the Kiwoom Heroes, while the Padres showcased their prowess by defeating both the LG Twins and the Korean National Team. However, the Gocheak Sky Dome in Seoul, with a capacity for 18,000 spectators, witnessed a noticeable shortage of attendees.

The Dodgers and Kiwoom Heroes attracted 14,671 fans, the Padres versus the Korean National Team drew 12,497 enthusiasts, and a mere 6,815 spectators watched the Padres take on the LG Twins. According to Kyodo News, this turnout has sparked conversation among the Korean media about the country's familiarity with MLB.

Kim Woo Jong, a reporter for Starnews Korea, noted the lack of sellouts for the exhibition matches, attributing it partially to exorbitant ticket prices — nearly tenfold that of local Korean baseball league games — and inadequate parking facilities near the stadium.

Despite the lukewarm reception to the exhibition games, optimism remains high. "This series is expected to bridge the gap, acquainting the Korean audience with Major League Baseball and inspiring future generations," Kim remarked.

Encouragingly, tickets for the official Opening Day game between the Dodgers and Padres are sold out, indicating a potential shift in interest. The MLB World Tour is a strategic initiative launched by the league to extend its reach globally, with scheduled games in cities like Tokyo, Seoul, Mexico City, London, and Paris through 2026.

The tour aims not only to engage international audiences but also to foster a deeper appreciation for baseball worldwide. Following the Seoul Series, the tour will continue with matchups in Mexico City and London, featuring teams such as the Houston Astros, Colorado Rockies, New York Mets, and Philadelphia Phillies, further solidifying baseball's global footprint.

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