The League have since then further clarified on a few points in regards to the security deposit, funding for baseball development and entry fee. So, this opinion piece is horribly out of date 🙂 Might as well skip all the parts where we talked about money.
With the announcement of the expansion prerequisites. The league have set a pretty high barrier of entry for new teams with a hefty 7 million USD initial investment plus an additional 12 millions USD being the refundable deposit to ensure at least 5-years of operation (Total 19 million USD).
Here’s an opinion/ reaction piece from the CPBL STATS team in regards to the expansion press release.
Further examining of prerequisites/ CPBL support/ timeframe
Not going to cover every single points from the press release, only the important one.
- Entry fees: 4 million USD
- Security deposit: 12 million USD, refundable after 5 seasons.
- Certified company with capital more than 16 millions USD
- Foreign capital can not exceed 50%
- Provide detail information of the company structure to the board of CPBL.
- Priority in draft and claiming players on waivers
- 3 years (Actually 1.5 year) timeframe before CPBL top team debut
While it’s understandable the reasoning behind such a high barrier of entry, and the strict background check on the company structure due to the 2009 dmedia T-REX game-fixing incident, where the company was funded by the organised crime group. But such a high barrier of entry does leave the public with a perception that CPBL doesn’t actually want any new teams, instead just throwing an unrealistic number to pleased the baseball fans in Taiwan. (A bit similar to their attitude towards farm league)
Financially speaking, looking from a potential new team point of view. Is CPBL really worth the 19 million USD initial investment? Especially the team have to start everything from scratch and won’t be able to generate any income until one and half year later. Below is a clearer breakdown on the time frame.
- 1st Year – Begin around June at mid-season draft. (0.5 year)
- 2nd Year – Full season in the farm league (1 year)
- 3rd Year – Top team debut (Total of 1.5 year before CPBL debut)
Now the question is, will the company’s shareholders be okay with that decision? Sinking 19 million USD plus the on-going operational expenses for 1.5 years without any return? Or is it easier to purchase an existing team instead? Since there’s no need for security deposit and can start immediately in the top league.
Another concern, the new team is required to spent its first full season in the farm league. What about the top amateur players drafted by the new team? Potentially, they’ll miss out one and half year of top-team service time, which directly impact their overall free agency time. Is there a system in place to compensate those players?
Without enough incentives for companies to form new teams. Then we’ll continue to stuck in the “1 team exit, 1 team join” 4-team league cycle.
- 2012 – Sinon Bulls -> EDA Rhinos
- 2013 – Brother Elephants -> Chinatrust Brothers
- 2016 – EDA Rhinos -> Fubon Guardians
Required proposal from the new team
- Provide home strategy plan
- Provide franchise development/ operational proposal.
- Additional 3 million USD is required from the new team for local baseball development.
Now that’s a funny one, the request is coming from a league with a half-arsed attitude towards farm league and overall league structure. The condition and general maintenance of the stadium have been poor for the past 28 years, as most teams not wanting to take full ownership of the “adopted” stadium and still heavily rely on local city council for maintenance. What’s more, 2 out of 4 teams in CPBL doesn’t even have an exclusive home stadium.
As for the 3 million USD for baseball development. I am all for more funding and support for student baseball development, but what’s this got to do with expansion of the league? It should be done, but instead should be a separate issue which managed by all existing teams.
CPBL really need to take a hard long look in the mirror. What have they done in the past 28 years for local baseball development? Let’s use KBO as an example, they have a financial support system in place for new student baseball teams using the income generated from the KBO playoff.
Where do you put the new team
Location, location, location.. now that’s actually one of the biggest problem for team expansion. Obviously all the teams would like to be in the big cities with decent population, so where do we put the new teams? Here’s the current team location based on their “adopted stadium”
Current adopted stadiums
- Taoyuan – Lamigo Monkeys – Full adoption with 60 home games.
- New Taipei – Fubon Guardians – Partial adoption with 27 home games.
- Taichung – Chinatrust Brothers – Partial adoption with 34 home games.
- Tainan – Uni-Lions – “Partial” adoption with 27 home games. Technically, should be full adoption but Lions been forced to travel due to Tainan stadium renovation and international tournament.
- Kaohsiung – 39 games by Guardians, Brothers & Lions
- Douliu – 13 games by Guardians, Brothers & Lions
- Tianmu – 5 games by Guardians, Brothers & Lions
- Chiayi – 5 games by Guardians, Brothers & Lions
- Hsinchu – Shut for renovation until 2018.
- Old Taichung – Former home for Sinon Bulls. Right now being used for student / industrial league games.
The 1st obvious choice is Kaohsiung stadium, 2nd largest city in Taiwan with a newly renovated stadium. However there’s always issues in the past with Kaohsiung city council not being supportive enough for the local professional baseball teams (FALA, La New Bears & EDA Rhinos). Hence the city has earned the nickname “The Heartless City”.
Located in the capital Taipei city. Tianmu stadium is actually a pretty good fit as a home for the future teams. However due to the current regulation, Tianmu stadium can not have any professional baseball game during the weekday.
Healthy 4 teams vs expansion?
As a baseball fan who witnessed the rise and fall of the professional baseball in Taiwan (11 active teams in 1997), I do want to see more teams. However, if there’s a choice between having 4 “healthy” teams vs immediate team expansion. The honest truth is I’d rather pick a 4-team league with the direction towards strong foundation and league structures first. The 5th and 6th teams can wait.
Yes, one can say those two things are not mutually exclusive, but based on CPBL previous track record. I highly doubt the league will be able to do both at the same time.
Direction towards being a “healthy” league
CPBL has come a long way since 1990 with their structure and policies. We’re seeing some promising things done by the league such as farm league, players union, free agency and minimum wage. But there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
- A serious farm team system. Let’s face it, there are way too many players in the farm league that’s not suitable for professional baseball, they’re simply there as a roster filler. In the past, due to the organisations half-arsed attitude farm team, top team players often does not feel the pressure of being replaced by farm team prospects. (We do start seeing change in that attitude the last few season)
- Real franchise localisation. At the moment, only Lamigo Monkeys and Uni-Lions are able to accomplished that in CPBL. We’re talking about full integration with the city itself and becoming part of the city rather than travel all over Taiwan and call every stadiums home. With localisation done correctly, teams and the league are able to be more focused with their marketing strategies and allocating resources into fans development in that particular city.
- Proper disabled list and loosen the current foreign players activation limit. Right now, there’s a hard-cap of 3 foreign players. Shall a team deactivate a foreign player, they will have to release them.
Looking at Taiwan’s metro areas, it seems like the country could support a six team league. Gambling scandals have hurt professional baseball in Taiwan at crucial times, when the CPBL was on the verge of success. The only good thing that can be said about a 4-team league is that Taiwanese baseball fans get to see a quality produce when they go to the ballpark.
6 is ideal, 8 max in my opinion. But there’s always the question where are they going to put the new team. As a fan that went through the league high and low. Yeah, that string of game-fixing really hurt the league. CPBL was on par with KBO back in the day in terms of structure and attendance back in the day before the scandal.
I still think CPBL need to do a lot more before expanding. Need to keep up with the current momentum, and maybe in 2-3 years the league will be ready for 5th and 6th teams without hurting the game quality.