Taiwan Baseball League to Start Allowing Fans Back Inside

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Taiwan’s CPBL (Chinese Professional Baseball League) is world reknowned for the “fans” in their stadium concourses this season- they’re either robots, mannequins or cardboard cutouts. That’s about to change however, as the island nation of Taiwan has done such a great job in containing the coronavirus that baseball can once again be played in front of human spectators; albeit a limited number.

Thus far, the CPBL, which started its regular season April 11, has played 28 games behind closed doors due to CECC (Central Epidemic Command Center) restrictions aimed at preventing any further spread of the virus. It was announced yesterday that a maximum of 250 fans will soon be allowed into each individual game, with a meeting tomorrow to determine when; as well as other specifics of the plan.

They are the only professional baseball league in the world to play regular season games thus far in 2020.

The easing of restrictions will allow up to 500 people in a stadium at a time, and you currently have a population of about 250 already with players, coaches, staff, broadcasters, technicians and cheerleaders. Yes, the cheerleaders will soon have humans to perform in front of, once again. In all likelihood, season ticket holders will be given the first priority. Last season, the league had an average attendance of about 6,000.

Over the weekend, we spoke with Richard Wang (RWang_WBSC on Twitter), WBSC Baseball Asia Correspondent and FOX Sports MLB Broadcaster/Commentator (TWN), on how this all came about. We also discussed the current stadium atmopshere.

“Taiwanese CDC has given CPBL the green light to gradually bring fans back to the stadium,” Wang, who’s a huge Boston Red Sox fan, told us via email.

“CPBL will call a GM meeting on May 5th to discuss the detailed information on the plan to open the gate and welcome the fans…and as the pandemic eases in the future more fans will be allowed back to the stadiums.”

The best place to catch the CPBL online is via Twitter, so be sure to check out Eleven Sports Taiwan’s account.

If you’re confused about why Taiwan’s professional league has “Chinese” in the name, we covered that in a separate article yesterday.

Wang also gave us the story behind the robots and cutouts: 

“Quite a creative idea isn’t it? The idea came from the promotional team of Rakuten Monkeys. In addition to robot drummers, the club also put cardboard cutouts on the seat representing the fans (who can purchase the four person cutouts and in the process designate the seating area) since they cannot come into the stadium in person.

“For a price in the vicinity of US $200 you can purchase the cardboard cutout for four people, and the cardboard will be placed on the designated seat as long as the gate is closed.”

He also went into detail on the role that the cheerleaders play on gameday.

 “I really want to tip my hat to those cheerleaders,” he said.

“In normal times they dance in front of thousands of people to bring them up to their feet, and to lead the crowd in cheering, chanting, singing and dancing during the games.

“But now they are doing exactly the same thing (with additional duties to open personal streaming conversation with fans through mobile devices) to nobody (but cardboard cutouts) from the beginning until the end of the game.”

“That is professionalism at its best.”

He also elaborated on the composition and structure of the league in Taiwan for us.

“Currently there are four teams (Guardians, Monkeys, Lions and Brothers) playing at the major league level, with the fifth team (Dragons) playing in the minors,  and they will be promoted to the major league level starting in the 2021 season,” Wang explained.

“The baseball season in Taiwan is divided by two half-seasons. Winner of the half-season will play Taiwan Series in the best-of-seven format. If the team wins both half-seasons, then the team with second and third best overall record will play a best-of-five playoff series to determine the matchup in the Taiwan Series.”

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly contributes to WGN TV, Sports Illustrated, Chicago Now and SB Nation.

You can follow Banks, a former writer for Chicago Tribune.com, on Twitter and his cat on Instagram.

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  1. Jerry Lawler says

    Great article Paul Max Banks!

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