CPBL opens 2024 season in Taipei Dome
30/03/2024 2 Minute Read

CPBL opens 2024 season in Taipei Dome

The 2024 CPBL season will mark a record-setting season for Taiwan baseball as the league expands to six teams and hosts games in the Taipei Dome for the first time. A total attendance of 28,618 at the opening game also set a CPBL all-time single-game record.

TAIPEI, Taiwan | The Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) hosted the 2024 season-opening game at the Taipei Dome, the first and the only indoor baseball stadium in Taiwan, as defending champions Weichuan Dragons took on their 2023 Taiwan Series opponent Rakuten Monkeys. Dragons’ right-hander Jo-Hsi Hsu threw CPBL’s first pitch in front of over 28,000 fans and won the historical first CPBL game in the Taipei Dome, 3-2, before being named MVP of the game.

Back to six teams

2024 also marks the first time since 2008 for CPBL to open the season with six teams. After the completion of the 2008 season, the then six-team league was reduced to four with d-media T-Rex expelled due to the game-fixing scandal and Chinatrust Whales announcing its dismissal.

Meanwhile, Sinon Bulls (1996-2012) was sold to become EDA Rhinos (2013-2016) before being acquired by Fubon Financial Holdings to become the Fubon Guardians (2017-), CPBL’s founding franchise Brother Elephants (1990-2013) announced its sale to Chinatrust Financial Holdings to become the CTBC Brothers (2014-), and Lamigo Monkeys was acquired by Japanese e-commerce giants to become the Rakuten Monkeys (2020-), leaving the Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions the only remaining founding franchise.

With Weichuan Dragons (1990-1999) coming back to CPBL as an expansion team (2021-) and TSG Hawks making their debut in 2024, CPBL is back to a six-team format for the first time in 18 years.

With six teams each playing 120 games a year, a record-high of 360 games in total will be played in 2024, and three games played each day simultaneously, both setting records for the 35-year-old league.

Leaping into the dome age

Baseball fans in Taiwan have been promised a dome stadium since 1991, and it took more than 30 years for fans to finally see their dreams come true. In addition to the first-ever sold-out event as the Yomiuri Giants took on CTBC Brothers in early March, 35 CPBL games will be scheduled at the dome in 2024 before the III WBSC Premier12 takes place in November.

The newly built Taipei Dome can host about 40,000 spectators for baseball games and is equipped with the largest LED screen in Taiwan and 34 luxury suites. Restaurants, department stores, and cinemas on the campus are expected to start operations in the second half of 2024.

New rules go into effect

The league is also trying to speed up the pace of the game in the new season by shortening the pitch clock to 20 seconds when bases are empty, and 25 seconds when runner(s) are on. CPBL games averaged 3 hours and 22 minutes in 2023 and were five minutes longer than what it took in 2022. MLB games averaged 2 hours and 40 minutes, while NPB games averaged 3 hours and 7 minutes, both significantly shorter than CPBL.

CPBL will also implement the extra inning rule by placing a designated runner on second base starting the 10th inning (CPBL does have a special rule to limit the playing inning at 12 even when the game is still tied) and to allow the use of PitchCom.

Legends to retire

2024 will be the final season for Lions' legendary right-hander Wei-Lun “DuDu” Pan, who is entering his 22nd season and is two wins away from reaching the 150-win milestone. Pan has been a frequent member of Chinese Taipei, representing them in three Asian Games (Busan, Doha, and Guangzhou), two editions of the World Baseball Classic (2013 & 2017), and the inaugural WBSC Premier12 in 2015 among other major international tournaments. Pan was the Rookie of the Year in 2003 and will retire as the record holder of most wins in CPBL history. Another Lions’ legendary infielder Kuo-Ching Kao, CTBC Brothers seasoned all-star fielder Szu-Chi Chou and pitcher Ta-Yuan Kuan will all call time on their careers in 2024.

CPBL’s longest-serving umpire Chien-Wen Su will also retire after officiating at the third base in the opening game, pushing his total games umpired to a league-record 3,381 games (914 behind the plate) spanning over 33 years.