Posted February 01, 2014

A Super Bowl-inspired look at potential neutral-site World Series locations

World Series
Dodger Stadium

Dodger Stadium has not had a World Series game since 1988, but it would be a perfect fit as a neutral-site host. (Mark J. Terrill/AP)

On Tuesday, Tom Verducci offered up 10 ideas he termed “conversation starters” about how to change baseball in ways both large and small. Among them was the notion of playing the first two games of the World Series at a neutral site. With the Super Bowl, America’s most celebrated neutral-site championship, about to be played on Sunday in New Jersey between teams from Denver and Seattle, that got us thinking about where the best places for a neutral site World Series might be.

VERDUCCI: Baseball’s State of the Union: Some ways to improve the game

More than half of the Super Bowls, 27 of 48 thus far, have been played in just three cities, Miami (10), New Orleans (10), and Los Angeles (7, five at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena and two in the L.A. Coliseum). Using that as a guide, we only need a handful of host cities for potential neutral-site World Series games.

The primary consideration for a neutral site World Series would be the weather. Though six teams play in retractable domes, and the Rays play in a permanent one, if you’re going to have a neutral location World Series game, you’re going to want to have it somewhere that the game can be played (and watched) comfortably outdoors. Here, then, is a list of the mean and average low temperatures on Oct. 23 (the date of Game 1 of last year’s World Series) for every major league city in the Unites States listed from warmest to coldest (all temperatures in Fahrenheit, source: weather.com):

City Mean Avg Low
Miami 78 74
Tampa 75 66
Phoenix 74 62
Houston 70 61
Anaheim 69 57
Los Angeles 68 57
San Diego 66 59
Arlington 65 55
Oakland 62 54
San Francisco 61 53
Atlanta 61 52
Baltimore 58 49
Washington 58 49
St. Louis 57 47
Kansas City 56 47
Philadelphia 54 44
Cincinnati 54 44
Seattle 52 45
New York 52 44
Boston 52 44
Chicago 52 44
Cleveland 52 43
Detroit 50 41
Milwaukee 50 40
Pittsburgh 50 39
Denver 47 31
Minneapolis 46 37

You didn’t need that chart to know that Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Detroit, Chicago and Boston weren’t going to make the cut. It’s an unfortunate reminder that the game’s two oldest and most beloved ballparks, Boston’s Fenway Park and Chicago’s Wrigley Field, the latter of which celebrates its 100th birthday this year, would not be favored for a neutral-site World Series (which, in my opinion, is reason enough to abandon an already-questionable idea).

What that chart does is give us 11 cities in which the average Oct. 23 temperature is above 60 degrees. From those, we can quickly eliminate Tampa, which will soon be the only artificial surface field remaining in the major leagues as well as the only permanent dome. It’s also fairly easy to drop Miami from the list, as baseball would be better off without both Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and giving his lime-green eyesore of a ballpark center stage at the World Series.

Two more difficult cuts come in the Bay Area, where Oakland’s Insert-Sponsor-Here Coliseum gets the bump due to its recent sewage issues and Mount Davis. That doesn’t feel like a big loss until you realize that, among active parks, only Fenway Park (9) and Dodger Stadium (8) have hosted more World Series than the Coliseum (6). San Francisco’s AT&T Park, meanwhile, gets the cut simply because it would be unfair to eliminate the A’s home park and not the home park of the team that has been instrumental in preventing them from moving to a new, baseball-only stadium. It hurts to lose splash-down home runs and triples alley, but San Francisco is also closest to that 60-degree cuttoff, along with Atlanta, making it an easier decision.

If we eliminate Atlanta as well, we get six cities that have an average Oct. 23 temperature of 65 degrees or higher: the three southern California stadiums, the two Texas stadiums and Phoenix’s Chase Field. All are excellent choices and could host the vast majority of the neutral-site World Series games. Dodger Stadium, obviously, has the most historic appeal, having hosted eight previous Fall Classics dating back to 1963. San Diego’s Petco Park would be the novelty venue given that it is the only of the six that has never hosted a World Series (the Padres’ two pennants came while they were playing at Jack Murphy-cum-Qualcomm Stadium).

Petco, Dodger Stadium, Angel Stadium and Chase Field have all hosted World Baseball Classic games in March, with San Diego the setting for the 2006 finals and Dodger Stadium the 2009 finals (2013′s final was played in San Francisco).

28 comments
JohnStevens
JohnStevens

And baseball is supposed to respect its traditions???  This would be the worst move ever.  How about some respect for the fans for a change.  Or is it not mostly, but all about money?

turumarth
turumarth

See now MLB trying to promote the sport internationaly, maybe you could have the first game in another country. Like Japan, Mexico, Venezuela, Italy, Australia, etc. 


Now I get that the team's fans wouldn't get to go, but I'd bet it would still get sold out. 

Jim P
Jim P

Neutral site World Series games is just stupid.  It's bad enough they have wild card teams.


If you win your league you deserve to have the games in your city. 


I think Stupid Bud Seligs move to tie the Allstar game winner to the World Series home advantage is stupid also. Whichever league gets the 4 games should alternate every year.  

guest45
guest45

Wow, this article was not though out at all. What about other weather considerations, such as average rainfall (not to mention non weather-related factors such as time zone preference, etc.). Maybe they should have it a 4-7 different ballparks, rather than just one...

DrMad01
DrMad01

The Playoffs don't need to be changed.  Moving to a neutral site will kill all that is good with baseball. (and that ain't much!).  Longest season of all sports, and to you play for the fans and home field, The game is played from early April (snow days anyone) to late October (soon into Nov..snow days anyone?).. Leave it alone.  And while I'm at it, NFL neutral site could easily be changed to home field as well.  If you can play football in all kinds of weather, why is the Superbowl any different? 

It's time to give the fans a break.  With increasing costs to travel and just to go to a game, the fans should be rewarded for HOME GAMES they earn!  


Call me crazy.   Almighty greed, inflated salaries, and this poor economy  are steering these pro leagues right out of the everyday fans price range.  I'm almost ready to give up on it all. I am one

Disenchanted Fan

badcyclist1
badcyclist1

Going with the premise of the article, just going with average high and low temperatures might be misleading.  You might want to consider far below average those temperatures actually go-- including what the record low is for October, or how likely it is to snow.


Some cities on this list look temptingly plausible if you only look at average temperatures, but you just know that it is a crap shoot whether the weather is going to be decent during the Series.


As a Dodger fan, I kind of like your being arbitrarily mean to San Francisco.....

bfa2ak
bfa2ak

Houston would have to be eliminated until they build a new stadium. It would be inexcusable to play games by choice in a stadium that has a pole in play and a hill in the outfield. 

AlainLapointe
AlainLapointe

Another ridicule article by this ridicule author .

megalodale
megalodale

Wow.  Some of you are getting a little bent over a story meant to generate a little discussion.  No one believes this is to be taken seriously...as in, it is going to happen within our lifetimes.  It is just a way to pass some time.  If a story like this gets you THAT worked up, it's time to find some answers.  Soon.

Masternachos
Masternachos

I'd say "NO" with vehemence, but as this appears to be nothing more than a thought exercise, I'm going to let it slide.

Fletch.F.Fletch
Fletch.F.Fletch

its a great idea, when 2 teams show up at the neutral site and the stadium is half full of fans that do show up, dont care who wins it will make for compelling TV. Should be a notch below those Braves playoff games that cant sell out. 

BryanCustard
BryanCustard

so let me get this straight- fans by tickets to support their team for 81 home games, through two full playoff rounds, and then get jived outta seeing a world series game? That idea is for the birds

MattBugaj
MattBugaj

Can we please just make it a 16-team playoffs? And while we're at it, can we declare all pitches over 95mph on the gun to be automatic balls? Another good idea would be to make it like softball where you can't leave a base until the ball is pitched. Or maybe we just bring the fences in an use wiffle ball equipment. Better, to increase scoring, since scoring is the only thing that matters, ALUMINUM BATS! If none of that goes through, maybe one lucky fan could get punched in the face by a real big league executive between the ceremonial first pitch and the start of the game.

Enough already!

KeysSteven
KeysSteven

A "notion" that needs no promotion and best left on bottom of the ocean.  Okay, that's corny, but better that than going gonzo-for-change like some NASCAR fat-cat or NFL tweaker (extra-points).  And the "weather," please, stop it.


Demerit points for you, Tom and the MLB cufflink who feed you this floater.

Vinny Cordoba
Vinny Cordoba

Holding the WS at a neutral site is a horrible idea. So somehow, MLB will make sure it happens.

Davos1
Davos1

Did they pay you for this? Return the money. Maybe you should go back to writing for some obscure Yankees blog.

parkbrav
parkbrav

Does this proposal assume that all 7 games be played on the same neutral site? And what if the host stadium also happens to feature a team playing in the World Series?

parkbrav
parkbrav

I think baseball and weather and park effects are synonymous

GregJackson
GregJackson

7 Super Bowls have been played in LA.  3 at the LA Coliseum and 5 at the Rose Bowl.  Somebody really is terrible at math.

Toes14
Toes14

This has got to be one of the stupidest ideas I've ever heard!  Why would they ever need to mess with the current set-up, other then changing the idiotic rule about home field advantage going to the winning league in the All-Star game?  (It should go to the team with the best overall record, period.)


What genius decided that people who live in neutral cities would even want to watch the world series?  Sure, you'll get some fans from the two participating teams to travel, but not nearly enough to sell out the games.  When my favorite teams aren't in the World Series, I couldn't care less who wins it, and rarely if ever watch it.  I'd wager that 90%+ of baseball fans feel the same way.


Let's keep in mind that this screws both participating teams out of a game's worth of ticket sales, concessions, parking fees, etc.  Then throw in the economic impact to all of the stadium employees, waiters and bartenders in nearby restaurants & bars, and other businesses, and what you get is a huge economic cut to the two cities.


This article was just written because Cliff Corcoran had nothing better to do and thought "What if . . ."!   Cliff - do us a favor, next time, just don't write anything.

rpearlston
rpearlston

Toronto has a retractable roof, and with interleague play, every NL player needs the necessary paperwork to play a few games there.  But there's no mention of Toronto on that list.  


The whole idea of a neutral site is to help to ensure that games are played in appropriate weather. That's why the NFL has taken to holding most Superbowl games in Miami (warm(er) weather), New Orleans (dome) and LA (warm weather, but the math in this article must be the new one, because the old mather says that 5 + 3 = 8, not 7.  To translate that to MLB, you would need to stay in domes (retractable or not) and warm weather (in October) teams.  That's Phoenix, Houston, Seattle ,Tampa and TORONTO, plus Miami, Anaheim, SD, Atlanta and  LA,   There is no reason whatsoever to leave domes off of this list, particularly since a domed stadium pretty much guarantees that the games will be played despite the weather.  (There was a rain-out at the Astrodome, but it was because the rain flooded the streets and no one could get to the place.  There have been 3 rain delays and two weather-related double-headers played at the Skydome/Rogers Centre since it opened in June 1989.  The first double header was due to a rainout in May 1989 at Exhibition Stadium, and the second was due to a rainout, late in the season, in Cleveland in 2001.)


But while we're at it, why not play all WS games at a neutral site?  Further, home field advantage should be based on which team had the better overall record, with the tie-breaker being their record within their own division.  Isn't it more confusing, and the travel worse, by playing the WS in up to 3 cities instead of one or two?  And having the series played in a neutral but pre-selected site gives fans of both teams equal access to tickets, hotel rooms, etc.  You'd still have to decide relatively early if you want tickets for any of the WS games, but you do that anyway for stuff like the Superbowl and the NCAA basketball tournament.  There's no difference.


For the record, Toronto has also hosted first round games of EVERY WBC.

zeebaneighba
zeebaneighba

Sure, why not play World Series games at a neutral site and make it as insipid and bloodless as the Super Bowl? All sports need fan energy, baseball perhaps more than most. Handing the first two games over to crowds of 60,000 suits on corporate freebies is the surest way to ruin it.

megalodale
megalodale

@Masternachos Exactly.  It is a thought exercise and some here are treating it like it was a suggestion to beat their dog to death.

TimmyTacoDog
TimmyTacoDog

@Fletch.F.Fletch That should change now that the Braves are moving to where people actually live - huge fan base, but hard to trek an hour and a half in traffic just to watch a game.

JosephVignolo
JosephVignolo

@Toes14 There are some problems with using best record to determine home field advantage in the World Series.

For one, other than during inter-league play, the two teams didn't play against common opponents all year. Second, what if both teams have identical won-loss records? This actually happened this year as the Red Sox and Cardinals had identical records.


As flawed as it is, I like the method of using the All-Star Game winner to determine home field advantage during the World Series.