“If You Build It, They Will Come”: MLB and NFL Cross New Borders

If You Build It, They Will Come: MLB and NFL Cross New Borders

In 1989, ghost players walked out of the corn to “have a catch” in the movie, Field of Dreams. On August 12, 2021, players once again walked out of the corn, but this time, it was  the modern Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees, led by actor Kevin Cosner, excited to recreate an iconic moment from the film. According to CNBC, the game had nearly 5.9 million viewers on live TV and other streaming services, a record for regular season games. Recently, more and more national sports (especially baseball and football) have announced (or are reintroducing) regular season games in locations other than homefields; whether it be Dyersville, Iowa, or London, these teams are crossing new borders.

The idea of a neutral-game site was most recently played out by the MLB. In 2019, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox played in the first London Series at Wembley Stadium. The series ended up being a sweeping hit; not only did the Yankees take the Sox 2-0, but the game brought in fans from across the globe. Commissioner Rob Manfred stated 70% of the audience in attendance were local (two of which being the Duke and Duchess of Sussex). From those fans who commented, many had not been to a baseball game, so the experience was thrilling. The other 30% in attendance were committed American fans as well as fans from other European countries looking for the same experience as the locals. Following the MLB’s campaign to “build a genuine dialogue and relationship with cultural scenes that reflect those of the (MLB) home cities” as well as the success of the 2019 London Series, it was planned again for the next year. Although the 2020 London Series was scheduled and fans bought tickets to watch the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals face off, they were unfortunately postponed until 2021 due to COVID-19 (since travel bans were still in place during the beginning of the season, the series was cancelled all together). Additionally, after the success of the first Field of Dreams game, the Chicago Cubs and the Cincinnati Reds will have their chance to walk through the corn stalks during the 2022 season. For more information about the Field of Dreams and London Series, as well as other information about the current/upcoming season, check out the official MLB website.

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the home of the NFL London Series

The NFL has been travelling to London for a series since 2007. After 2019, however, it was undecided if the series would continue. When the pandemic struck, the decision was made for them. However, many fans were surprised that the release of the 2021 schedule featured the face off of the Atlanta Falcons and New York Mets preceded by the Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins to be played in London. “We expect these games to be a celebration of our sport and our robust UK fan base,” states NFL Executive Vice-President Christopher Halpin. Of course, with COVID still a factor, the teams have been in close contact with the London officials and “will continue to monitor the COVID environment, putting health and safety first, and will adhere to any and all future COVID regulations and restrictions.” For all updates on the London Series as well as important updates for the upcoming season, head to the official NFL website.

With all the events that have taken place within the past year and a half, we see more than ever how important a role sports play in society. With teams returning to more standard operations, it is exciting to see our beloved teams spreading the love of the game out of our borders.