“It’s always a double, right?”
The 59th Fall College Football Championship 텍사스홀덤 has come to a close. It was a 17-day campaign that lasted from the 11th to the 27th. A total of 85 teams competed in the tournament, which was held in the Taebaek area of Gangwon Province. Unlike the scorching heat at the top, it was cold outside the stadium. This was due to the rapidly rising cost of living in Taebaek. A parent said, “Last year, the cost of breakfast for the team was 7,000 won. This year, it has risen to 12,000 won. Even considering the recent inflation rate, it is an expensive amount. It was too sudden. It hit us especially hard this time. There are bound to be complaints. Because of the ridiculous price, some people are saying that it is unreasonable,” he sighed.
The Korea University Football Association has been holding its fall tournament in Taebaek since 2011. “The city sends us a proposal to host the tournament. After the coaches’ opinions and the board of directors, the venue is finalized.” Taebaek is said to have received positive reviews due to its cool climate. For Taebaek, hosting a college soccer tournament is good news. It will help revitalize the local economy. In fact, at least 3,500 people, including players, parents, university officials, and professional team scouts, came and went during the tournament. That’s one-tenth of the population of Taebaek (38,918 as of June 2023).
The problem is hospitality. “In the past, most schools stayed in Taebaek. Only 10 to 15 schools stayed in Sabuk and Gohan. This year, a lot of teams suddenly moved to Sabuk and Gohan, which is the peak ski season. They are actively trying to attract university teams because there are a lot of rooms left. They take care of the room, food, etc. It’s a 30-40 minute bus ride, but everyone’s budget is tight these days. There are no rooms in Taebaek, it’s just too expensive.” According to a survey by the KUFA, out of 85 teams, 55 schools stayed in Taebaek. Twenty-eight schools set up base camps outside the city. Dongyang University and Se Kyung University chose to commute.
Taebaek residents seemed to recognize the situation. One transportation worker said, “We always call ‘double’ now. If you look around, there are many empty rooms. I’m worried that it will be said that Taebaek won’t hold the tournament next year.” A sports administration expert said, “School budgets are limited. Most of it comes from parents’ pockets. The prices keep getting higher and higher, and nothing is being done about it. Taebaek City shouldn’t sit on its hands. The KFA shouldn’t pretend to be oblivious. They should be proactive by meeting with the hospitality industry. It is important to induce them to form a market price while pointing out the positive effects of sports competitions on revitalizing the local economy.” In addition to tuition, college soccer players pay operating and tournament fees. The situation is better at prestigious universities, but the situation is said to be serious at local universities. Choi Soon-ho, head coach of Suwon FC, said, “I used to work for the Korean Football Association.