I have written about previous Major League exhibitions played in the Maritimes. I have also written about my proposed Home Run Atlantic idea where two minor league teams play a series in the region (based off of the CFL’s Touchdown Atlantic series). Now, I am going to combine the two ideas and propose having a Major League game (or series) played in the region.
Prior to this year’s Fort Bragg Game, I never would have thought of this as a possibility. In case you’re not familiar, on July 3 the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins played a regular season game in a temporary ballpark at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Fort Bragg is the largest military base in the world, only military personal were allowed into this game. Major League Baseball and the Player’s Association spent $5 million (US dollars, of course) to put this game on for the troops. During the ESPN broadcast of the game (which was featured on Sunday Night Baseball) MLB commissioner Rob Manfred stated there are plans to play regular season games in other locations that normally don’t see Major League games. Such locations are not limited to military bases. After the game, the stands, clubhouses, press box, etc were dismantled; leaving just the playing field. The field has been donated to Fort Bragg to be used for baseball and softball games on the base. Such a game in the region would be open to the public, and not just military members.
Obviously, if such a game were to come to the region, the Toronto Blue Jays would almost have to be involved (probably as the home team). In an ideal world, their opponents would be the Boston Red Sox or (if it ever happens) the Montreal Expos 2.0. Having said that if Maritimers had a chance to see real live regular season baseball, the game should sellout in a heartbeat regardless of the matchup. The game at Fort Bragg gives Major League Baseball a template to go by to play games in other temporary ballparks around North America, if not the world. Such a ballpark could be placed in say, Halifax and sit 15,000 (Fort Bragg Field sat 12,500). The idea of having MLB, MLBPA & maybe the Blue Jays themselves building a Major League quality field with temporary seating to play a game here would be exciting. As with Fort Bragg, the field would be left behind for community use (senior, junior, midget, etc baseball). If constructed in the right place then such a park could become a minor league ballpark.
Such a ballpark could be placed in Dartmouth Crossing or Shannon Park (obviously, such an event would be played before farther developments there, with a community ballpark being left behind). On the Halifax side of the harbour, perhaps Graves Oakley or even fit the required 15,00o (or so) around the current field by the Canada Games Centre. If all else fails there’s plenty of land neat the airport to construct such a stadium. With the Enfield/Fall River area growing, there would be no lack of community use of it after the game is played.
As of right now, MLB has played regular season games in 29 states and two provinces. Would not surprise me if this number increases in the next decade or so. There have also been games played in Australia, Japan, Mexico and Puerto Rico. There have been rumblings that they will play in London, Netherlands and Taiwan. Games will be played in neutral sites over the coming years and with the right planning perhaps the Maritimes could be on their radar.