SENDAI (Kyodo) Rakuten Baseball Inc. expects to post a profit and not the loss it had been projecting for calendar 2005 — the first year of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles professional baseball team.

The Sendai team is heading for a last-place finish in the six-team Pacific League, but average attendance for the year has come close to the target of 15,000 per game and sales of Rakuten goods have been robust, company officials said Wednesday.

Performance-based pay for players has been contained, which also contributed to the profit, they said.

Rakuten Baseball will now likely log several tens of millions of yen in profit instead of the projected loss of 1.5 billion yen, the officials said.

Internet-mall operator Rakuten formed the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles to fill the void left after the merger between the Orix BlueWave and Kintetsu Buffaloes late last year.

Rakuten Baseball expects to post a loss next year as it plans to spend more than 1 billion yen on enhancing player training and about 3 billion yen to remodel its Fullcast Stadium in Sendai, the officials said.

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