In a move that serves as a reminder of just how significant a player The American Dream City has become on the national stage, Major League Baseball announced that the 2020 World Series will be played this month at Arlington’s Globe Life Field.
And that’s just part of the great news for the city.
The schedule for the 2020 postseason, which opened with the American League’s inaugural Wild Card Series on Sept. 29 and the National League’s first Wild Card Series openers on Sept. 30, also puts NL division and championship series match-ups at the game’s newest ballpark in the days leading to the World Series. Globe Life Field is one of four ballparks that will be used in the latter rounds of the playoffs, along with Houston’s Minute Maid Park, San Diego’s Petco Park and Dodger Stadium.
In the first neutral site Fall Classic in modern history, Game One of the 2020 World Series is set for Tuesday, Oct. 20 at the new home of the Texas Rangers. A potential Game Seven of the World Series is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 28.
Major League Baseball’s announcement was welcome – and not totally unexpected – news to at least one big fan of baseball and his hometown.
“Before COVID hit, the owners had a meeting right here to see this new Globe Life Field,” says Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams. “To hear firsthand from those owners there how impressed they were with this ballpark, that really laid a lot of groundwork because these teams that are in the playoffs and World Series are going to be coming to the premier Major League Baseball ballpark in America.”
After the question of where the playoff and the World Series games would be played this year was answered, a second important query followed almost immediately: Will fans be allowed to attend the games at the stadiums in baseball’s version of “the bubble” concept that had been implemented previously in professional basketball and hockey to ensure safe playing environments in the era of coronavirus?
In mid September, after Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred announced the playoff and World Series sites, he expressed his desire for the answer to be yes.
“I’m hopeful that for the World Series and the [League Championship Series] we will have limited fan capacity,” Manfred said at a virtual address to an audience at Hofstra University’s Frank G. Zarb School of Business. “I think it’s important for us to start back down the road. Obviously, it’ll be limited numbers, socially distanced, protection provided for the fans in terms of temperature checks and the like. Kind of the pods like you saw in some of the NFL games. We’ll probably use that same theory.”
Manfred said last month that a final determination about in-stadium attendance will be made before major league teams head to their respective neutral playoff sites. Any decision would be tied to state and local ordinances. Late September Texas state regulations would allow Globe Life Field and Minute Maid Park to be filled up to 50 percent capacity. Capacity for a baseball game at the Arlington venue is 40,300.
In devising the postseason plan, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association incorporated several key safety measures, including:
– Players on contending teams will have to quarantine at their respective hotels in the final seven days of the regular season.
– Families of players on contending teams will be permitted to quarantine with players for the seven-day period and can remain together throughout the postseason run. Family members would be considered to be part of the bubble.
– Everyone considered to be part of the bubble will be tested for COVID-19 on a daily basis.
– Players can elect to leave their hotels once their team has been eliminated.
For the Texas Rangers, hosting the World Series at Globe Life Field is quite the consolation prize after having to play the first season in their new home without having paying customers in the stands throughout the 60-game season.
“We’d [have loved] the Rangers to be in the World Series this year,” says Rangers Executive Vice President of Business Operations Rob Matwick. “Whoever comes through our doors, whichever clubs are fortunate enough to make it to the championship, we’re thrilled to host them here in Arlington and Globe Life Field. We certainly want to thank Major League Baseball and Commissioner Manfred for having confidence in us in being able to deliver at the highest level of our game, at the most important games, and the most important times of the year for Major League Baseball here in October.”