South Korea steps up to plate in energy-saving efforts

Fri Feb 19, 2010 3:12am EST
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SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's professional baseball league plans to go green this season by cutting game times and installing electricity-saving equipment to reduce energy use.

The league would phase-out the local tradition fans call "halftime" where in the fifth inning players take a five-minute break, the field is cleaned and cheerleaders entertain the crowd, officials said on Friday.

Solar panels will be coming in to stadiums along with new lighting systems designed to use less power, but there will be no move to reduce the number of night games and play more games in daylight instead.

"We have no plans for that," said Kim Yu-jin of the Korean Baseball Organization.

On the field, pitchers will be under the clock to deliver the ball to the plate quickly. Under new rules, a pitch must be thrown within 12 seconds after the batter is set in the box.

A pitcher will be warned for a first tardy delivery and batters will earn a 'ball' in the strike count for each subsequent late pitch.

The plan is expected to cut energy costs by about 275 billion won ($238.3 million) a year, according to a study by the Korea Energy Management Corporation.

(Reporting by Christine Kim; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Peter Rutherford)