Taipei, Dec. 17 (CNA) The E-United Group, which has manufacturing, education, health care and real estate interests, has purchased the Sinon Bulls, preventing Taiwan's Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) from collapsing.
The Kaohsiung-based conglomerate signed a contract Monday to took over the club, one of the CPBL's four teams, in a NT$130 million (US$4.47 million) deal after the club's former owner, the Sinon Group, put the team up for sale because of unsustainable operating losses.
Had nobody stepped in to buy the Bulls franchise, the league would have been left with only three teams and would likely have disbanded.
The Bulls, which were based in Taichung, will now be called the E-Da Rhinos and play their home games in Kaohsiung.
Rhinos general manager Yang Sen-lung said the franchise has 27 players and hopes to recruit Chien-Ming Wang and Hung-Chih Kuo, Taiwanese pitchers who have starred in the U.S. major leagues but have yet to sign a contract with any team for the 2013 season.
Group Chairman Lin Yi-shou said he was completely unfamiliar with the sports business when he first looked at buying the team, but he was later moved by the help and hard work provided by many people in negotiating the deal and saw the purchase as "his obligation."
Lin said he also plans to found a cross-Taiwan Strait baseball league, an idea supported by Kaohsiung Deputy Mayor Lee Yung-te.
The club's star pitcher Yang Chien-fu said it would take him time to get acclimated to his club's new name, but he pledged to do his best.
At the contract signing ceremony Monday, Yang Sen-lung said his heart was racing when he took up the post and promised to work with the players to build a strong organization.
Speaking of the game-fixing scandals that have repeatedly dealt huge blows to the CPBL and reduced attendance numbers, the team's new general manager vowed to disband the club if it is found to have engaged in fixing games.
(By Wang Shu-fen, Chang Che-fon and Kendra Lin)