“Can we trust Busan City?”
Basketball players who watched the process of professional basketball ‘Jeonju KCC’ making a new start as ‘Busan KCC’ were ‘half concerned and half excited’. The case was recalled in 2001 when Kia Enterprises, a prestigious company in Busan, moved to Ulsan and was re-established as Hyundai Mobis.
People might ask, ‘Why are we bringing up something from 20 years ago?’ But it wasn’t a needless concern. This is because Busan City’s sports administration showed a repeating pattern after Kia’s ‘departure from Busan’ until it moved to KT in 2021 and right before hosting KCC.
The ostensible reason why Kia left Busan 22 years ago was that Hyundai Mobis, an affiliate that took charge of the basketball team after Kia was merged with Hyundai Motor Group, had its main business in Ulsan. At that time, for Mobis, it was not a problem that there was no need to leave Busan, which had been loved since professional basketball days, but there was a situation inside. It was the non-cooperation of the Busan Metropolitan Government that the Mobis team was out of sight. At the time, a Kia Motors club official recalled, “I tried to put a game guide placard around the Sajik Gymnasium, but I was tired because I often had conflicts with public officials,” adding, “I couldn’t do it.”
Sajik Gymnasium is too large due to its structural characteristics, so it costs more than other club gymnasiums, including heating, but it has not received proper cooperation from Busan City. In the end, Busan was acquired by Mobis and abandoned without any regret.
Even when KT left for Suwon in 2021, the friction with Busan City was not much different. At the time, the Busan community fiercely criticized KT’s relocation, calling it a ‘night flight’. However, at the time, KT cited the breakdown of discussions with Busan City, which had been ongoing for several months, over the construction of a practice field and reduction of usage fees in accordance with the Korea Basketball League (KBL)’s home settlement system. At the time, it was difficult to blame KT’s ‘betrayal’ because it was a chaotic situation in which Mayor Park Hyeong-jun was elected through a by-election after former Mayor Oh Keo-don resigned midway. Even in KT’s ‘Depart from Busan’, the conflict with the Busan city administration was behind it.
It didn’t stop there. Mayor Park, who experienced the ‘KT incident’ as soon as he was elected, went out of his way to appease the remaining professional soccer and professional baseball teams. As part of this, in June of that year, he visited the Busan I-Park clubhouse for the first time as a mayor and met with Kim Byeong-ji, then vice-president of the Korea Football Association (currently CEO of Gangwon FC) and club officials, expressing his intention to support a long-awaited project, a dedicated stadium, and discussing policy directions related to the sports industry. He promised to completely reexamine.
Now, two years later, has there been any improvement? It is true that Busan I-Park’s response was cold. There was a lot of talk about the home team’s Busan I-Park being ‘behind the scenes’ regarding the use of the Busan Asiad Main Stadium during the Dream Concert performance last May and the Paris Saint-Germain Korean tour in August.
In the end, the city of Busan is said to be repeating the same cycle of policy support fluctuating every time the mayor changes, and even if the mayor makes good promises, they end up falling apart when he gets down to the front line. It is known that Mayor Park personally came forward and promised full support during the KCC hosting process. There is a high expectation that things will change. This is also the reason why basketball fans are expressing concern, saying, “I hope we don’t repeat the same mistake this time.”