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A gift from Jeju, a ‘football wasteland’, the ‘meaning’ of breaking through ‘10,000 paying spectators’

10,041 people. This is the number of spectators who gathered to watch the 8th round (0-2 loss) of ‘Hana One Q K League 1 2023’ between Jeju United and Jeonbuk Hyundai held at Jeju World Cup Stadium on the 23rd. Despite strong winds and relatively chilly weather, many fans visited the home stadium in Jeju.

Jeju, as is known, is barren for sports. Jeju consistently knocked the top ranks, but the football fever was not proportional. There were many stumbling blocks. Due to the regional economic structure, where tourism, service, and agriculture dominate, it is not easy for provincial residents to enjoy games on weekends. Seogwipo City, where the Jeju World Cup Stadium is located, has a population of 180,000. Among the 12 K-League 1 teams, the hometown population is the smallest. Even so, fewer than 100,000 people live in an area within 30 minutes of a stadium.

It is best if the population of Jeju City, which is three times the population of Seogwipo, visits the stadium, but there is a great psychological resistance to moving to Seogwipo City for the people of Jeju City. Although it is a distance of about 40 minutes, it is recognized as a transfer between Seoul and other regions by the people of Jeju City. Jeju has crossed a big wall this season. 70% of the spectators who visited the Jeju World Cup Stadium this season are coming from Jeju City. The number of spectators per 100,000 people is 4,421, which is the overwhelming number one. Second place was Pohang with 1911, more than twice as many. It is also encouraging that there are many family fans, especially female fans.

What is surprising is that this figure is the number of paying spectators. It is the first time that more than 10,000 people have visited a Jeju home game since the professional soccer federation counted paid spectators in 2018. In the mid-2010s, there was a wind of soccer in Jeju for a while with ‘The Battle of Tamra’ and ‘Loyalty Marketing’, but there was an imaginary figure in it. Most of them were free spectators. In 2016, the percentage of paid spectators in Jeju was only 3.7%, the lowest among the 12 K-League 1 teams. There were aspects that were unavoidable. Jeju is a special space called an island where tourism is the main business. Most of the residents are not used to paying money to see something. Football, too, had no choice but to jump on the bandwagon. 스포츠토토

But the tide is changing. Jeju declared the eradication of free tickets in 2017. He started the ‘Real Orange 12’ project. In order to change the consciousness of the fans, they steadily planned and executed events to increase paid audiences. The steps were slow. The average attendance in Jeju in 2019 was only 3708. Here, the K-League 2 relegation and the huge variable of Corona 19 overlapped. However, he did not stop trying and started to see the light this season.

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