Photos by Kirsten Richards, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86
Daejeon Hanbat Baseball Stadium 375 Daejong-ro, Jung-gu Daejeon, South Korea
Year Opened: 1964 Capacity: 14,133
Eagles and Robots
The Hanwha Eagles joined the KBO in 1985 as the first expansion team, bringing the number of clubs in the league to seven at the time. They have won the KBO Championship once (1999) and have had five second place finishes, four of which were between 1988-1992.
The Hanwha Eagles were originally called the Binggrae Eagles – Binggrae being the confectionary branch of Hanwha.
LA Dodgers pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu was secured from the Hanwha Eagles for a posting fee when he reached restricted free-agency. Not only are Ryu jerseys and t-shirts still widely seen, they are also still for sale from the team shop and it is common to see fans at Hanwha games wearing Dodger blue.
Despite Hanwha’s poor performance over the last few years, their fans are still passionate, loud and friendly. The introduction of robot cheerleaders in the outfield during the 2014 season was widely reported in sports media all over the world. The robots themselves are virtually invisible to fans in the outfield area, but are more visible to fans in the infield stands.
Hanbat stadium was first opened in 1964 and has been the home of the Hanwha Eagles since they first joined the league in 1985.
Food & Beverage 4
The vendors outside Hanbat stadium sell a variety of fried chicken that you are welcome to take into the venue with you. Inside the stadium are pizza and hot dog vendors, along with freshly made potato chips, a number of G&S; corner-store style shops and traditional Korean snacks.
All prices are in line with prices outside the park – approximately 2,000 Won for a can of beer and 1,200 Won for ice cream in a chocolate-lined wafer-cone.
Most days, the lines for food and drinks move very quickly.
Food and drink can be purchased on the first base side at Hanbat without leaving the interior concourse, which is very pleasant. If you do need to head to the outside concourse to acquire pizza or hot dogs, there are small TV screens showing the broadcast of the game at strategic points around the concourse.
The Hanbat Stadium skyline is blessed by the large and distinctive hills of Bomunsan Park. The KBO season takes in spring, summer and autumn and the hills change colour with the seasons. From the second tier of the first base side, there is also a view into the soccer stadium next door. The Hanbat Sports complex has gardens, a sculpted gateway and a statue of Yun Bong-gil (a famous Korean freedom-fighter) as part of the complex.
Hanwha take the first base dugout and Hanwha fans take the first base grandstand and the right outfield. The third base grandstand gets the sun. Over summer, games start late enough that this is not too problematic, but it can still be very cool for day games in spring and early autumn. Make sure to bring something warm to wear at this time of year.
On game days, especially game days with big crowds, the forecourt area in front of the stadium fills up with fans wearing Hanwha orange, or lining up outside the team store to have experts finalise their new jerseys with iron-on stickers. Another huge line also forms for access to the compressed air to inflate their cheering sticks.
Hanwha have not been the most successful team in the league over the past few years, but there are usually plenty of supporters at weekend home games and plenty of enthusiastic fans cheering in the right hand side of the outfield.
Hanbat has a few different kinds of seating areas, with the priciest and most comfortable seating directly behind home plate. Skyboxes, table seating in both the infield and the outfield, regular plastic stadium seating in the infield and outfield, a ‘glamping’ zone, and grassed family picnic areas round out the other seating options.
The upper tier of seating at Hanbat Stadium is even more cramped than Jamsil Stadium (home of the Doosan Bears and LG Twins), but not as steep. The cramped conditions can make moving around with food and drink at this level an exercise in agility and balance. Bringing everything you need to your seats in one trip is highly recommended if sitting in the upper tiers, as is keeping an eye out for people carrying beverages in the row above you. The lower levels carry nowhere near the same risks of falling food and drink. The upside of sitting here on the first base side are the lovely views of Bomunsan behind right field.
The cheering section at Hanbat is in the right hand side of the outfield in the general seating area. Hanwha has the usual cheerleaders, big drums and music arrangement. The cheerleaders themselves are extremely entertaining. It is a good idea to get to the stadium reasonably early to secure your seats in this section. Given that the pitch is so gentle in this part of the stadium, it is better to either sit right at the back of this section or between the concourse and the stage.
The view from this section only includes one of the big scoreboards, which shows the pitch count and batter stats. To track each individual at bat and the game progress, scoreboards directly behind home plate and on the far end of the third base grandstand must also be consulted.
Hanbat is an old stadium that has had a lot of work done to it. The two big scoreboards are both clear and visible from most parts of the stadium. The results of previous at-bats are not shown, but there is plenty of information about both batter and pitcher available. The animations for each out are also a lot of fun. The bullpens at Hanbat are behind the left field wall. Relieving pitchers are driven to the infield.
One of the most unusual parts of the Hanbat experience is the robot cheerleaders near the middle of the outfield. The robots were installed in 2014 and are connected to the internet, letting people not attending the game send messages through the scoreboards. The robots are pretty much invisible from the outfield, but their signs are very clear from the grandstand seating.
Hanwha fans, both local and expat are super friendly and always happy to carry on celebrating after a win. The atmosphere at a winning Hanwha game is joyous and infectious. Even at a losing game, fans will keep chanting and cheering until the bitter end.
Hanbat Stadium is about a mile from the main Daejeon train station. Walking from the train station is easy and straightforward. There is both an underground mall connected to the train station and the city’s subway line. Above ground is a traditional market. The Daejeon River is between the train station and the main shopping district in this part off Daejeon. The park and the river walkway/cycleway are often full of people enjoying the sunshine. On summer weekends there are often performers slightly upstream of the road to the train station.
Near the stadium itself is the aforementioned Bomunsan Park, which has a number of cultural attractions – including several temples and a museum – many hiking trails and a water park. The entrance to the park is an easy 5-10 minute walk from the stadium and a nice way to spend an afternoon before an evening game.
The stadium is also right next to a very large collection of love motels, so there is no difficulty in finding nearby accommodation. Better value for money can be found in the downtown area, with the Good Morning Residence particularly standing out. Apartment style rooms can be had for about $70/night.
The main downtown area of Daejeon is well to the north of the stadium area and includes a very lively club and pub scene.
Walking from the new downtown area is a little far, but from the main train station is both easy and interesting. Daejeon is yet another very safe Korean city in which to travel on your own.
Fans at Hanbat are very loyal to their team. The first chant of each game is the batting order. Like all Korean teams, each player has their own crowd song and movements dedicated to them.
Korean fans travel to games, so it is not unusual to see the visiting team very well and very vocally supported. Hanwha fans can be out-cheered in their own stadium when Hanwha are not doing so well, but generally the fans are very engaged in both the game and the effort of cheering for the team.
There are many Hyun-jin Ryu jerseys around and Ryu’s career and the Dodgers are followed with great interest and a sense of pride.
Hanbat Stadium is a little out of the way, being a solid 20 minute walk from the nearest subway stations (Jungangno or Jung-gu Office), or a good half hour walk from the Daejeon train station. A KTX train from Seoul to Daejeon takes less than 90 minutes and they run every 15 minutes, so this is very easy. Tickets from Seoul to Daejeon cost just over 20,000 won one-way.
From the Daejeon train station it is a reasonably comfortable walk to the stadium. If you decide to catch a taxi, you’ll need about 5,000 won. It is best to ignore the main taxi stand at the station and cross the main road to reach the smaller taxi stand a little to the right on the other side of the road. Taxis can only turn right out of the train station and must go several hundred metres before they can do a U-turn back in the direction of the stadium. Bus number 2 runs directly from the station to the stadium.
There is a parking lot associated with Hanbat Stadium, but it is much simpler to walk, bus or taxi to the stadium. Traffic can be extremely slow down Daejeon-ro on game day and it can take several changes to make it through each set of traffic lights.
Concourses are narrow, but are usually not uncomfortably crowded. The Hanbat Stadium main entrance is not at all welcoming, with a wide staircase leading to a narrow and fairly dark concourse. There is no glimpse of the field until you have travelled a substantial distance further. This initial glimpse is through a gate to the infield which is watched over by ushers. There is still quite a bit further to go, passing a strange jog in the concourse, pay-lockers and a team shop before you reach the light of the first base side infield concourse. From this point on, Hanbat Stadium is very open and you can see the game most of the time. Don’t let that first impression of the stadium put you off – a game here is an excellent experience.
Restrooms here are a little tight, but are clean. As with all stadiums in the KBO, I recommend bringing your own toilet paper as it may well run-out before the end of the game.
Return on Investment 5
A general admission ticket to the outfield cheering section can be purchased for well under 10,000 won.Prices for food and drink are no more than they are outside the stadium, so a fantastic day out can be had for well under 20,000 won per person.
The fans at Hanwha are truly a delight and very, very friendly.
The staff at the team shop are incredibly helpful and have a rack of clothes specifically to assist people in finding the correct size of t-shirt and jersey.
The freshly-made potato chips are really, really good!