ARLINGTON, Texas (NewsNation Now) — Game 1 of the World Series will take place Tuesday night at Arlington’s Globe Life Field. In another strange turn of events this year, this is the first time the series has been held in a neutral site due to COVID-19. NewsNation looked into what that means for fans, teams and local businesses.
“I started at 8-years-old, collecting baseball cards and playing little league, and it’s been a part of my life ever since,” said Doug Barnes, a lifelong fan of America’s greatest pastime. For him, a last-minute drive to Texas from Tennessee was a no-brainer.
“I’ve been to all the major league ballparks now except Globe Life Field, so I’m going to complete that task and be current again,” said Barnes. “And I’ve never been to a World Series game!”
On Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Dodgers will take on the Tampa Bay Rays. The neutral stadium — a first for the World Series. Jared Sandler, a radio broadcaster for the Texas Rangers, says this was Major League Baseball’s attempt to control the spread of COVID-19.
“Thirty teams—all the people that make up one team, it was just too tough to have a bubble or even a couple bubbles during the regular season, and the players didn’t agree to that,” said Sandler.
No surprise in 2020 that attendance will be at 25% capacity, which means about 10,000 socially-distanced fans in the seats.
“You’re used to loud atmospheres and tailgating and all that stuff, and it’s just not a thing this year,” said Sandler. “From a business standpoint, all these teams during the regular season lost that part of their revenue.”
The traditional MLB season has 162 games. This year, each team only played 60 games or fewer. Without fans in the seats, the league projected a net loss of $640,000 per game. The deficit isn’t just being felt in the C-suites.
“We do get a lot of Rangers fans here. Not this time of year right now,” said Curtis Taylor, co-owner of Legal Draft Beer Company about a mile down the road from Globe Life Field. He says the double whammy of COVID-19 and a lack of sporting events has been devastating.
“You know, we’re probably down more than 50% overall on our revenue, and without the government assistance we’d probably not be open right now honestly,” said Taylor.
So when the World Series announced Arlington as its host, it was a win. Not just for business, but for the brand new, billion-dollar stadium that DFW now gets to show off.
“It’s really good for Arlington, and everything I’ve heard from fans that have been to the games say it’s just…unbelievable,” said Taylor.
And for fans like Doug getting to see it first-hand in this way — pandemic precautions and all.
“It’s a real concern, but I think they wouldn’t allow fans in unless they saw a possibility for it to be safe,” he said.
He’ll take checking off his biggest bucket-list item in whatever way it comes.
“I just think it’s going to be I did it, or we did it! My buddies are also finishing up their 30 ballparks so I think it’s going to be a sense of accomplishment with everything going on and we’re still making it happen,” said Barnes.
Forbes reported that the MLB raked in $10.7 billion for the 2019 season. Their projection this year, with fewer games and no fans, is just shy of $3 billion dollars.
Game 1 of the World Series is Tuesday night at 7:09pm CST.