Previously, I discussed some possible neutral-field games in the USA or Canada. Today, it’s time to look beyond the borders and muse about possible neutral-field games internationally going forward.
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At the start of the season, regular season games were held in Sydney, Australia.* Whether you like it or not, it was not the first and won’t be the last time that MLB opened overseas. But, where will MLB go next? Here’s an overview of possibilities:
* This was partly written immediately following those games, but fell by the wayside until now, so here it is.
A Return to the Tokyo Dome
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Baseball Pedigree: Has hosted baseball since it opened in 1988, home of the Yomiuri Giants, hosted WBC games in 2006, 2009 and 2013, hosted MLB season-opener games in 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012. Japan is one of the preeminent baseball nations on Earth and host to the world’s 2nd most prominent baseball league.
Capacity: Between 42,000 and 55,000 (depending on configuration)
Pros: Japan is baseball-mad, has shown it can pack the stadium for MLB games, and the Tokyo Dome is highly-familiar to MLB officials and some players thanks to it’s many previous MLB-related events. Being a dome makes weather considerations non-existent, and Tokyo’s status as one of the world’s greatest cities allows for plenty for players to do when not playing.
Cons: It’s been done before several times, it’s a type of stadium that has been phased out of MLB, and, while this isn’t much of a factor that MLB cares about much, there is the time difference issue, with night games in Tokyo being early morning games in the Eastern USA and very, very, very early morning games in the western part of the USA.
Likelihood of return: It’s inevitable that MLB will return to Japan again sometime in the future, the question is whether the Tokyo Dome is the place it will happen. More-than-likely yes, but I’ll be looking at other possible Japanese sites later on.
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