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Official Review by Kirsten Richards, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Mokdong Stadium is home to the Nexen Heroes, who officially joined the KBO in 2008.
Mokdong is one of the smaller stadiums in the KBO, with a capacity of 18,000 and no bleacher seating. As a result, the ballpark feels intimate and all seats have a great view of the action. The foul-ball netting reaches nearly all the way to the outfield wall and is the only impairment to visibility.
The Nexen Heroes are a relatively new team. However the original owners bought the franchise license from the Hyundai Unicorns. It is still reasonably common to see fans at the stadium wearing Hyundai Unicorns jerseys. The Heroes do not claim any of the Unicorns records or history of success. 2013 was the Heroes best year to date, when they made it through to the playoffs.
Nexen Heroes are unusual in the KBO as they are owned by a collection of people and have a naming sponsor, rather than being owned outright by a company.
Mokdong Stadium is basic, but comfortable, intimate and friendly.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Fried chicken is the food of choice at baseball stadiums in Korea and there is plenty available at Mokdong. There is also a Pizza Hut stall, Tom n Toms Coffee and a wide variety of Korean snacks available. The big red concession stands selling hot Korean snacks are located on the first level behind first base and third base and are well-worth a good look for the variety of food they sell. They also smell fantastic - hot oil, chili, seafood, and salt.
Ranks of name-brand food stalls are behind both sides of the infield with a Kosa Mart selling packaged snacks like crisps, water, canned soda and canned beer in the centre. Beer is the Korean ballpark standards Hite and Cass - both are light lagers.
Prices for Korean snacks are close to street-vendor pricing, everything else is a little more expensive, with cans of beer costing 2000 Won (less than USD$2) and fried boneless chicken wings for two with a litre of beer costing 20,000 Won from a name brand stall.
Lines are short and move quickly. It is a good idea to practice your Korean for what you might want to buy, as not much English is spoken at the stadium.
Mokdong doesn't have quite the same volume and variety of food available immediately outside the stadium as some of the larger stadiums. If you want to bring something specific with you, planning ahead is required. As with all Korean baseball stadiums, you can bring in whatever you like and there are no bag checks.
The first level concourse at Mokdong wraps around the whole stadium and is well-lighted and comfortable, even when it is quite crowded. There is never any doubt that you are still in the stadium and welcome to come back to your seat, unlike some of the other KBO stadiums.
As Mokdong has no bleacher seating, there is a view through to the apartment buildings of Mok 5 (o) Dong. Behind right field, the lights and walls of the Mokdong soccer stadium are visible and behind left field is a sky-scraping tower.
The park itself is part of the Mokdong Sports Complex, which includes the previously mentioned soccer stadium. The ice-skating rink is located next door. An easy walk over a nearby pedestrian bridge will get you into one of the many riverside parks of Seoul. Exploring the well-lighted and well-trafficked park is a lovely way to spend the rest of a summer evening after seeing the Heroes.
Games start late enough over summer that heat is not much of an issue. Nexen fans take the third base side and get the shade first. The visiting team fans take the first base side and are in the sun until late afternoon. There is no shade or shelter outside of the infield.
Mokdong Stadium has a tiny bit more legroom than the other Korean stadiums. It also has wire cup holders attached to the chairs, and there is definitely not enough room to get past without spilling a drink. Be wary. The pitch of the seating is unremarkable.
Team dugouts are tucked under the seating and are not accessible. The bullpens are just behind the outfield wall and this is a very popular area for fans to interact with players during batting practice and warm-up activities.
The scoreboard is fairly basic. It can also struggle with producing a readable scoreline, should any stats exceed expected bounds. For example, a team with 10 walks has 'A' as their score for walks.
The riverside parks are a highlight for the visitor to Seoul. Large, very busy, uncrossable highways make the underlying geography of the Han River and its tributaries hard to see or even experience as a pedestrian.
Also within an easy walk of the stadium are the restaurants and shops around Omokgyo subway station. Walking to and from the station is easy, comfortable and safe.
The party district of Hongdae (Hapjeong and Hongik University stations) is a 15 minute subway ride from Omokgyo station. Vibrant Sinchon is only one stop further along.
Korean fans travel to away games in large numbers. The away team will often have as many fans in the stadium as the home team. Nexen fans can be out-cheered by the fans of the visiting teams over the long-term, but also provide plenty for the visitor to enjoy.
Fans on their way to the game are happy to exchange smiles with you and help with directions on the subway, at the station exits and on the street.
The easiest way to get to Mokdong Stadium is via Omokgyo station on Seoul subway line 5. The Mokdong station is actually further away from the stadium. The best exit from Omokgyo station is clearly labelled as Mokdong Stadium. On reaching street level, aim for the large blue roof labelled 목동 that can be seen about 400m/quarter of a mile away. This is the roof of the ice skating rink next door to the baseball stadium, which is about a 10-15 minute walk, depending on the traffic lights.
Omokgyo station is about 30 minutes by subway from Gimpo International Airport and closer to 1.5 hours from Incheon International Airport. It is about 40 minutes from Seoul Station. Alternatively, bus 6637 can be caught from Seoul Station directly to the stadium and only takes about 30 minutes. Fares are 1200 Won each direction.
Mokdong does have a large carpark attached and directions are provided by the club, but the recommendation is definitely to take the subway or the bus to the stadium. Traffic in Seoul is quite challenging.
It is very easy to move around within the stadium. However, it is not particularly wheelchair friendly.
The stadium is also blessed with a truly astounding number of clean bathrooms. If, for some reason, there is a long queue at one of the first level bathrooms, there are even more on the second level.
Reserved seating access is available directly from the main concourse, so polite and friendly stadium staff check tickets at those access points. You will not be allowed through to photograph the field, but the attendant may be happy to do so for you.
The price for weekend general admission here is surprisingly high for the basic nature of the facilities and in comparison to the teams based at Jamsil.
If it is possible to make a weeknight game, the price of second-level infield table-seating is not very much more than weekend general admission. Weeknight general admission is more in line with general admission prices for Jamsil.
If you can't make a weeknight, never fear, a game at Mokdong is a great experience and still well-worth your money. The stadium feels very intimate and you're close to the play no matter where you are.
Like all stadium experiences in Korea, the fans are amazing - fun, friendly and cheering hard.
There are no real extras at Mokdong that are unique to the stadium or the team.
The cheerleaders, the mascot and the between-innings 2-minute countdown are common across the KBO. Both the male and female cheerleaders are very entertaining and the crowd's response to being asked to cheer is usually enthusiastic and loud.
The 2-minute countdown definitely keeps the game moving, but in a high-scoring game, it can still take a surprisingly long time to play 9-innings. Don't make bookings for the rest of the evening that require you to leave the field after 3 hours, or you might miss some of the excitement.
Member Review by TheJourneyman
The Nexen Heroes are the newest team in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO). They were formed in 2008 after the Hyundai Unicorns disbanded. In their three seasons they have finished 7th, 6th, and 7th in the league standings out of 8 teams. They have yet to have a winning season, but that doesn't mean they don't have some great fans.
Before we get into the team and the stadium, a little about the background of the KBO is in order since it is a little different than the leagues in the USA. There is only one division of 8 teams where the top four teams make the playoffs. Games are called a tie after 12 innings, and every Monday is a regular day off for each team.
The Heroes play in Mokdong Baseball Stadium in Seoul. The stadium, built in the late 1980's, holds around 18,000 people. It's not the newest, but it's one of the nicer stadiums in the league.
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