Major League Baseball delivered a smashing success with the “Field Of Dreams” Game.
The inaugural event in an Iowa cornfield featured memorable performances by several Black players.
Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton both homered for the Yankees. Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson ended the game with a dramatic walk-off home run and another emphatic bat flip.
With baseball struggling to connect with the younger generation, the game was a hit with the general sports audience and FOX definitely owned the night.
It generated massive interest from fans and stellar TV ratings. According to sports video.org:
“5,903,000 viewers watched the inaugural MLB at Field of Dreams broadcast, featuring the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox, on Fox and Fox Deportes. The game peaked with 6,094,000 viewers from 8:45 to 9 p.m. ET on Fox and ranks as the most-watched regular season baseball game on any network since 2005 (5,090,000).”
NBA Wants In On “Field of Dreams” Game Ratings
The corporate rat race among pro sports leagues is real. When one uncovers a gold mine they all run to get a piece.
Now, the NBA’s reportedly looking into a similar regular-season showcase at a special site.
During an interview on “The Crossover” podcast, Evan Wasch, NBA executive vice president of basketball strategy & analytics, said the league is considering something similar.
“We’ve explored it, as we’ll continue to talk about it,” Wasch said. “Obviously, the ‘Field of Dreams’ game was incredibly successful. So, no surprise it has sparked some discussions, and it’s worth exploring. But the logistical challenges of a basketball game outside are just significantly more than a baseball game, which, of course, is already played outside.”
MLB at Field of Dreams, a regular-season game played Aug. 12, honored the 1989 film “Field of Dreams,” which takes place in Dyersville, Iowa.
There’s no movie that defines the essence of basketball as perfectly as Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones’ classic paints a picture of old school baseball and its connection to American culture.
But there are two leading candidates historically positioned to host an outdoor game.
Rucker Park & Famed Venice Beach Courts
“The Rucker” is iconic for its ties to basketball history and is considered the “Mecca of Basketball” and a breeding ground for some of the NBA elite.
Basketball savants like Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, and countless others have put their talent on display for fans to see.
The basketball courts at Venice Beach are another ideal option.
Some of the best outdoor courts in the United States are located in the Los Angeles suburb. Couple that with ties to the iconic movie “White Men Can’t Jump,” and Venice Beach could be the ideal location for a possible L.A. Lakers vs L.A. Clippers matchup.
Outdoor Game Poses Challenges
While playing on a blacktop might cause some injury concerns, players and fans would love the environment and homage to basketball history.
Naturally, it’s a bit more complicated for the NBA. Only four games in league history have been played outdoors, with Indian Wells hosting a preseason contest between the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks in 2010.
But league officials moved on from the outdoor games due to the weather challenges.
Wasch says the unpredictability of weather is one of the main impediments.
“Whether it’s blacktop and injury concerns or a wooden court outside with humidity concerns and moisture that can get on the court, being beholden to rain, all of those of things become a consideration,” he insists.
If the NBA could work this out — maybe even take some of these “playground” games overseas — it would definitely be a huge draw for fans.
MLB’s Field of Dreams game was successful because it captured the essence of the game, reminded us of the lost purity of billion dollar sports and bridged generations.
The NBA can do the same by holding a game at one of the famed hardtop venues that were once breeding grounds for the NBA elite.