Andrew Farrell, Hanbat Baseball Stadium, Hanwha Eagles, Korean baseball, Stadium, Tickets

Hanbat Stadium

The Daejeon skyline creeps over the top of Hanbat Stadium as the Eagles host the Tigers (June 2016).

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What is it? The Hanwha Eagles (formally Binggrae Eagles) have been playing at Hanbat, also known as Hanwha Life Insurance Eagles Park, since 1986. Entering Hanbat is like stepping back in time, no matter how much paint the use to cover over the cracks. Despite that, the home of the Eagles remains one of the best places to watch baseball in Korea. It is dripping with charm and nostalgia, words sadly lacking in most modern venues. This is a great stadium.

How can I get there? Hanbat is conveniently located between Daejeon and West Daejeon Stations, the two main access points to the city. It won’t take more than 20 minutes on foot from either station to reach the stadium. Seodaejeon Negeori (exits 1 and 8) is the closet subway station, approximately 10 mins away. Hanbat is walk-able from most points in the city, especially the lively areas. The stadium is located just off Chungmu-ro, a busy thoroughfare that is always hectic on game days.

Can I buy food and drink? You can not bring alcohol into the stadium, and expect to have your bags and pockets thoroughly checked by security before you enter. Staff here appear to enforce the rules more strictly than their counterparts across the country. Beer is available inside the stadium, but it isn’t cheap. The Korea favourite, fried chicken, is available everywhere.

What if I want to buy some merchandise? There is an excellent Hanwha store outside the home plate entrance where you can buy distinctive Hanwha orange jerseys, hats, hoodys etc.

Where should I sit? Home fans sit on the first base side and often the ‘cheering section’ is divided between first base and right field. The Eagles have also experimented with cheering robots in the past but they may have gone now. Despite being in the cellar for much of the past 6 years, the local support is always infectious and probably the most loyal in the country. When you see how busy, noisy and electric the atmosphere is as Hanwha struggle near the foot of the table, you wonder how incredible it would be if they were in with a genuine play-off chance by September.

Away fans sit on the third base side and there is a small upper deck. Unlike in most grounds, the outfield is a lot of fun in Hanbat. It is messy but thrilling, with rows suspiciously ending sooner than expected and chairs resembling swirly bar stools overlooking the bullpen.

Unlike most clubs in Korea, Hanwha still play in a relic from another time. But there are people who prefer it’s intimate surroundings over shiny new stadia in Gwangju, Daegu and Gockeok.

Is there any post-game entertainment? There isn’t much outside the stadium but a short walk will take you to Jungangno Station, close to the river, which is packed with restaurants, bars, nightclubs and even a cool bowling alley.

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Oh, I need a ticket. Can I get one? Yes, but don’t be too confident just by looking at the current standings. I’ve had to pay double the face value before to see my team play Hanwha at weekends. There is a ticket desk next to third base but the lines are usually long and slow. Depending on what you read, the capacity of Hanbat is somewhere between 11,00 and 14,500. Warm summer weekend games will sell out fast. Tickets will cost upwards of 8,000 won.

Please click on the link provided to find tickets for Hanwha Eagles’ games, if you don’t want to risk queuing up on match-day. Warning. This site is in Korean so ask a friend to help you if you can’t read the information.

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