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Official Review by Kirsten Richards, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Lotte Giants are one of the founding members of the Korean Professional Baseball League and moved in to Sajik Stadium when it opened in 1985.
The Giants have been Champions twice – in 1984 and 1992 and are well-known for having an incredibly strong and vocal support base.
Sajik Stadium is the largest baseball stadium in Korea and hosted the baseball part of the Asian Games in 2002.
The city of Busan is the second biggest city in South Korea and the third busiest port in the world. It is famous for its popular calm beaches, beautiful seaside and mountain trails, and relaxed, friendly people.
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".
Sajik Stadium has all kinds of concessions, but they are very spread out and it is harder than expected to find the food you want. It is directly across the street from a popular entertainment district. As with all other baseball stadiums, you can bring in anything you like to Sajik Stadium, so you can choose to buy either from these shops, from the vendors that set-up outside the stadium close to game time, from the big Homeplus supermarket near the subway station, or to buy from the concession stands inside the stadium.
There is a hot dog stand with hot dogs running $3-$6, the inevitable fried chicken and coffee stalls and concession stands selling Korean snacks, such as octopus, squid and dukbokki (fish cake). Soda and beer are the same price inside the stadium as outside the stadium, with beer running around $2/can.
There are no queues on quiet nights at the stadium for the bathrooms or for the concession stands, but an evening with a full house requires substantially faster movement from the traveler.
Sajik Stadium has a very attractive swooping line from both the outside and the inside of the stadium. There are gorgeous views out of the stadium and over to tall buildings and the mountains from most places inside the stadium. The decoration above the scoreboard is a replica of the famous Gwangan Bridge. The Lotte Giants symbols, logo and decoration all make it clear that this team is from Busan.
Fans are loud, very enthusiastic and Sajik has a couple of traditions which are extremely enjoyable to participate. One is making newspaper pom-poms, but far easier and hilarity-inducing is the wearing of orange shopping bags on one's head between the 7th and 8th inning.
The stadium itself is definitely showing its age in the state of the brown tile used throughout the concourse, the narrowness of the concourse itself and every bit of the stadium being blocked off by ushers from every other bit of the stadium. A wander through the stadium taking photos might require showing your ticket to several different ushers, most of whom will believe that you are lost and will helpfully direct you back to your section and seat.
Most of the seating, including some of the pricier areas of the stadium are open to the elements. While the third base side gets the sun during the afternoon, by the time an evening game starts, the entire stadium is in welcome shade.
The loudest part of the crowd is located directly above the cheerleading platform on the first base side. It's a great place to quickly pick up the chants and cheers and really enjoy being part of the crowd. If you'd like a little more room, table-seating starts a little closer to the infield, but rapidly increases in price. Seating in the upper deck area behind home plate provides a great view of both the field and the surrounding countryside for a much cheaper price.
The Lotte Giants provide plenty of entertainment between innings, with lots of Kiss Cam, including some gorgeous 'kiss your kids' shots. The cheerleaders perform some very interesting internationally inspired routines to a rousing response from the fans.
Sajik Stadium is part of a sports complex, but it is not cut-off from its surroundings at all. There is a restaurant/bar/café area directly across from the main entrance to the baseball stadium and this area is well served by buses. On the other side of the stadium, between the subway exit and the stadium is a large Homeplus.
Busan is a very popular tourist destination with plenty to do and see. It's easy to spend a week or so here and find something interesting and different to do every day.
Haeundae Beach is Korea's longest, most famous and most popular beach. It's about a 40 minute bus ride from the stadium, or just under an hour on the subway. The beach is very busy both day and night, with rentable umbrellas and a non-stop festive atmosphere once the day cools down a little and people stop swimming. Bands, video DJs and buskers set-up all along the boardwalk and play until late into the evening on weeknights and weekends. There are pop-up bars and a seafood market where you can pick your dinner out of a tank and have it prepared on the spot. Shinsegae Centum City is also in Haeundae-gu and only a couple of stops away on the subway. It's the largest department store in the world and home to SpaLand, where you can go for some serious relaxation time.
Gwangalli Beach is another popular spot both day and night, with a lovely beach and the headlands perfectly frame the Gwangan/Diamond Bridge. Seeing the bridge lit up at night is one of the must-see sights of Busan and locals recommend seeing it from the mountains, rather than from the beach.
The city meanders around mountains and along the coast, so there are easily accessible mountain hikes from nearly all parts of the city. The 1,300 year-old Beomgeosa Temple on Geumjeong mountain is accessible by public transport. There is also a wide variety of museums and art galleries throughout Busan as well.
There are plenty of festivals held in Busan, the biggest of which is probably the Busan International Film Festival, but it's always worth checking the Busan tourist information site for events being held in and around Busan.
Busan is yet another very safe Korean city and there are no issues with walking or taking public transport alone at night.
Lotte Giants fans are regarded as the most passionate in the league and they certainly cheer very hard for the team no matter what occurs during the game. Korea is fairly small and fans travel to baseball games, so there is always a strong representation of supporters of the visiting team at the ground.
Lotte games sell out quickly. On a weeknight, you will likely be able to buy a ticket on the day, but this is less likely on the weekend. Tickets for the outfield can be purchased the day before the game from Busan Bank. Otherwise you will likely need the help of a Korean friend to acquire tickets from the website, as using the website requires the ability to speak Korean, a Korean credit card and a Korean phone registered in your name.
If you are buying tickets on-site on the day, you must head up the ramp to the left of the team shop. There is nowhere to buy tickets at ground level. If you have been lucky enough to have made a reservation, you can print your tickets out at the machines on the ground level.
Lotte supporters take the first base side and this is where the cheering platform is located. At this stadium, as at many others, seats just above the cheering platform are a great way to get involved and learn the team's chants and songs very quickly. All parts of the stadium will join in the singing though, so you won't miss out wherever you sit.
This is another field where fans are very welcoming to strangers and your nearby neighbours in the crowd may surprise you with gifts of food and will definitely assist you to participate in some of the crowd rituals, such as tying a shopping bag on your head during the break between the 7th and the 8th innings.
Sajik Stadium is very easy to get to. The nearest airport is Gimhae International, which largely services flights to and from other parts of Asia. The airport is a stop on the green line of the Busan subway, as is the KTX train station and main express bus terminal.
There are a number of other bus terminals in Busan, but all of them are connected to the subway, so it is easy to find your way around the city. Bus stops in Busan are also clearly marked and have a lot of information about the buses that stop at each stop, making it very easy to get around.
Google Maps public transport is accurate for Busan and is probably the easiest way to plan your trip from your accommodation to and from the game. If choosing to travel via subway, you can use either Sports Complex or Sajik stations on the brown line - they are about the same distance from the stadium. If you want to go via Homeplus to buy snacks first, then Sports Complex is the station for you.
Approximate travel times via subway to the stadium are as follows:
Gimhae airport - 1 hour
Haeundae beach - 50 minutes
Downtown Busan - 30 minutes
Busan KTX station - 1 hour 15 minutes
Catching the bus is very easy and may be faster from some areas of Busan depending on the time of day and likely traffic conditions.
There is free parking available at the sports complex.
For the capacity of the stadium, the concourses are quite narrow and there are multiple choke-points. There are plenty of bathrooms, but it's worth having a few napkins with you, as toilet paper does run out.
Sajik Stadium also has the best viewing points for audience members in wheelchairs, with a large area on the infield first base sideline dedicated for wheelchairs.
A Lotte Giants game presents an excellent return on investment. Outfield tickets are about 6,000 won (about $6 USD) on the weekend and tickets are half-priced on weeknights, making table-seats and infield seats very affordable. The views from all parts of the stadium are lovely, the crowd is loud and good-humored and food and drinks are cheap and plentiful, should you choose to buy inside the stadium.
Busan is also a lovely place to visit and it is well worth planning some non-baseball days and evenings to explore the city.
The Lotte Giants museum (free-entry) is worth a visit and includes some fascinating information about some of the Giants history. There are also interactive games and photo opportunities at the end of the museum. The path out of the museum puts you in the Giants merchandise shop, which contains a wide variety of merchandise options at all price levels.
The fan traditions are particularly novel and enjoyable to participate in.
The stadium also contains a nursing room and a playground.
Member Review by TheJourneyman on May 22, 2012
The Lotte Giants might be the most popular baseball team in South Korea. Despite only having won the Korean Series twice (1984 and 1992), their fans are widely known as the wildest fans in the KBO. They started playing at Sajik Stadium, known as the Mecca for Korean baseball, in 1986.
They play in the extremely popular KBO which has only eight teams total (expanding to nine in 2013). Games can end in a tie after 12 innings, and every Monday is an off day in the league that continues to grow in popularity on the peninsula.
The Giants play in Sajik Stadium in Busan which holds about 28,500 passionate fans. The stadium was opened in 1985 and play began the following year.
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