As Major League Baseball prepares to host their first-ever Field of Dreams game in Iowa, it’s already a huge success. That’s why you’ll continue seeing special regular season events from the league.
It was postponed last year due to the pandemic, but on Thursday, the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees will square off in the cornfields of Iowa on the key set for the movie Field of Dreams. Yes, “people will come, Ray,” will literally happen in a field adjacent to where the movie was shot with FOX airing the game (6:00 PM ET). Joe Buck and John Smoltz will call the game with reporters Ken Rosenthal and Tom Verducci.
The game will assuredly draw more viewers than if the game were hosted in Chicago (the White Sox are calling this a “home” game), and for MLB and FOX, as their network partners know, that’s the whole idea.
While you weren’t looking, Major League Baseball has expanded these special jewel event games. Whether they took a page from the NHL with their Winter Classic series or did so organically, the idea of manufacturing increased audience size through these unique games is clever thinking.
In 2017, MLB launched the Little League Classic in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, home to the Little League World Series. It was a great tie-in that saw the kids in the Little League World Series in the stands watching players they hope to someday emulate.
In 2019, the league launched the London series which were the first MLB regular series games in Europe. Postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic, the plan is to again return and finish out a two-year agreement at London Stadium.
Back to the Field of Dreams game, the game is already a massive hit with advertisers. According to the Sports Business Journal, the game will pull in record ad revenues for a regular-season game – the largest ever in the 25 years FOX Sports has been airing MLB games – more than doubling anything prior.
“If baseball asks us, we love it,” said Fox Sports exec VP/sports sales Seth Winter to the SBJ. “There are so many great rivalries in baseball, why not bring great rivalries every year?”
Winter added that the Field of Dreams game reminded him of the NHL Winter Classic. “Field of Dreams is becoming a little bit of that to baseball,” Winter said. “It was an event that was created to keep fan interest and do something unique and different.”
And it’s not just on television that the game is pulling in extra interest. TickPick reports that the Field of Dreams game is the most expensive regular-season MLB game on record for the secondary ticket company with ticket prices compared to that of a World Series game with the average purchase price being $1,326.19, the “get-in” price of $1,220, and the most-expensive ticket going for a whopping $3,972. Below shows with TickPick historical data for their most expensive World Series tickets compared to the first Field of Dreams game.
Rankings of Top 5 Most Expensive TickPick Ticket Prices All-Time:
(Games 3, 4, 5, and 7 of the Cubs-Indians 2016 World Series)
- Game 4 = $3,112.64
- Game 3 = $2,671.77
- Game 5 = $1,860.43
- Game 7 = $1,577.15
- Field of Dreams Game = $1,413.63
Back to FOX Sports and the production of the game, they are pulling out extra bells and whistles for the special regular-season game. For the first time, they will use multiple aerial production drones to give a unique view in the broadcast.
So, if the NHL started with just one Winter Classic a year and moved to multiple games, it seems near-certain that we will see more of these specialty games in Major League Baseball. What they look like could be anyone’s guess. Could the league host a game in Houston at the Astrodome on a marquee anniversary? Could a game be played Durham Athletic Park (DAP) in honor of the movie Bull Durham? The league will have some limits, but as the data shows, MLB in-season jewel events are popular with fans, network partners, and advertisers.
MLB Field Of Dreams Game – By The Numbers
- 335 feet down the lines; 380 feet to the alleys; and 400 feet to dead center.
Nods to Old Comiskey Park:
- The bullpens, located behind the 12-foot high padded wall in center field, are designed to resemble old Comiskey Park.
Building the Ballpark Has Required:
- The moving of 30,000 cubic yards of material.
- The installation of 4,000 tons of sand and 2,000 tons of pea gravel under the Bluegrass blend (legend, blue note and bolt cultivars).
A Game in a Cornfield:
· A “corn maze” adorned with MLB’s iconic silhouetted batter logo is located beyond the right field fence, near the Field of Dreams Movie Site – part of an immersive fan experience.
· Iowa-based Musco Lighting is providing a first-of-its-kind LED system that will also spotlight much of the 159 acres of corn that surround the ballpark.
· The right field fence has a unique design that accentuates the corn through a fine mesh seven-foot high green chain link fence with offset vertical support posts – meaning the posts will actually be in the corn.
· The stalks that produce field corn will grow 10-12 feet high.
· A manual scoreboard will be in the corn just behind the right field fence.
MLB Field Of Dreams Broadcast Times
Airing on: FOX
Pre-game: 6pm ET (studio host Kevin Burkhardt is joined by World Series champion and 14-time All-Star Alex Rodriguez, World Series champion and 10-time All-Star David Ortiz and Hall of Famer and five-time All-Star Frank Thomas)
Game: 7pm. (Joe Buck and John Smoltz with the call. Tom Verducci and Ken Rosenthal reporters)
Spanish Language: Game airs on FOX Sports Deportes. (announcer Adrian Garcia Marquez, veteran baseball reporter Carlos Alvarez and former MLB infielder Edgar Gonzalez)