Kansai Indepent League Fiasco
Posted by simon c on 2009 May 22日 Friday
The upstart Kansai Independent Baseball League in its inaugural season has been mired with problems of late. The swine flu which hit the Kansai area the hardest so far has postponed games scheduled for 22-24 May, but the league is facing a tougher challenge.
The expected revenue to be distributed by the league to the 4 teams apparently fell short by 2-oku yen (~$2 million) and the teams were supposed to receive revenue distribution of 3000-man (~$300,000) from the league on 31 March, but that had not materialized.
This has put the 4 clubs under financial strain, and the initially guaranteed monthly salary of 20-man (~$2000) for the players may not be paid in full by some teams, and some teams may also cut players (if they’re carrying any extra players above the 20 person roster). The player salary payment plans for the 3 teams other than the Kishu Rangers of Wakayama on hold.
The Kansai League is, of course, famous for drafting and playing the first ever professional female baseball player in Japan in Eri Yoshida, the Kobe 9 Cruise sidearm knuckleballer reliever who has appeared in one game so far and is rehabilitating from shoulder soreness.
The 4 teams will form an operating company and take over league operations from the Stella group who started up the league but had defaulted on its revenue distribution payments prompting this dispute. However, the teams will not be taking Stella to court over this issue, and will look for ways to cut costs, delay payments, improve revenue (by recruiting their own sponsors for previously league reserved advertising space on uniforms, etc.), and the full league schedule will be played as the league resumes play after the current swine flu postponement in the schedule. The Kansai League will expand by adding the Mie Three Arrows to the league next season, and has big plans for future expansions that clash with other independent leagues expansion plans, and apparently there’s a plan to start up a Kanto Independent League in 2011 with teams in Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, and Saitama, but who knows in this economic climate.