ARLINGTON, Texas - The 2020 World Series will be played at the brand new Globe Life Field, but the Texas Rangers likely won't be a part of it.
The World Series and other National League playoff games will take place in Arlington as part of a bubble agreement between Major League Baseball and the players' association, the first time the sport's championship will be played entirely at one site since 1944.
As part of an agreement finalized Tuesday, the Division Series, League Championship Series and World Series will be part of a bubble designed to minimize exposure to the coronavirus, which decimated the regular season and limited it to a 60-game schedule for each club. The best-of-three first round of the postseason -- expanded from 10 to 16 teams this year -- will be at the top-seeded teams.
The World Series will be at Globe Life Park in Arlington, the retractable roof stadium with artificial turf that opened this year adjacent to the Rangers' old ballpark. The American League Championship Series will be at San Diego's Petco Park, and the National League at Globe Life Park.
The announcement is historic because there’s never been a neutral site World Series. But what’s more important is the economic impact for Arlington, who has been hit hard by the pandemic.
J Gilligan’s Bar and Grill and some other Arlington businesses are just holding on during the coronavirus pandemic. But playoff baseball in Arlington is giving restaurant owner Randy Ford hope.
“It has been quite a challenge,” he said. “Everyone in the restaurant and bar businesses — let’s face it, state wise and country wise, this has affected everyone. That’s why it would be great if we have fans.”
A city known for hosting big events has been quiet for months.
Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams has said the city expects a $20 million budget shortfall from March to September. Allowing fans would be a fiscal boost.
“If we are able to have fans, we are looking forward to everyone taking advantage of all the amenities in the metroplex in Texas,” the mayor said. “We are a city that has hosted some of the great sporting events in America.”
The MLB says it hopes to allow fans in a limited capacity, but the decision on that will be made later.
“There will be a positive economic impact even if there are no fans,” Williams said.
Governor Greg Abbott says up to 50% capacity is allowed at sporting events.
The Rangers say Globe Life Field has hosted 61 graduations and other events and will be prepared if fans are allowed.
“We are smarter today than what we were six months ago,” said Rob Matwick with the Rangers. “So hopefully as the mayor mentioned with masks and social distancing, we can be in a good position to host fans.”
The AL Division Series will be at San Diego and Los Angeles' Dodger Stadium, and the NL Division Series at Globe Life and Houston's Minute Maid Park.
Texas is last in the AL West at 17-30 entering Tuesday, with little chance of advancing to the postseason.
"In the view of our infectious disease experts, the biggest risk of exposure for players and staff is contact with family members and friends who have been exposed to COVID-19 in their communities," Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem wrote in a memo sent to teams Monday night. "Nearly all of the positive test results that have been reported for players and staff in the last month can be traced back to contact with an infected family member, domestic partner, or friend outside of club facilities."
Halem said MLB and the players' association were in the process of finalizing details of the agreement, which provides for players to be tested daily during the postseason.
While the NFL plays the Super Bowl at a neutral site selected in advanced, baseball has resisted the idea, which has been long advocated by prominent agent Scott Boras.
The World Series was last played at one site in 1944 at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis, where the Cardinals beat the Browns 4 games to 2. New York's Polo Grounds hosted all the games in 1921 and 1922, the last two seasons it was the home of both the New York Giants and Yankees. The Giants won both titles.
AL teams in mathematical contention are to start a transition period on Sept. 22 and NL teams the following day in which up to 28 active roster players, 12 taxi-squad players and 50 additional personnel ranging from bullpen catchers to front-office staff must remain at the team's transitional hotel or travel with the team on the road.
Under an exception wanted by the players' association, any player who either lives him himself, lives with a spouse or domestic partner who is pregnant or has special medical needs documented by a physician or is living with children may quarantine at home during the transition period, with a provision that MLB will not approve a large number of requests to quarantine at home.
Only spouses, domestic partners, children and child care providers can stay with players during the transition period, and people other than players may not bring family to the transition hotel or on the road. Family members will not be allowed into the bubble hotels at the four sites unless they complete a supervised seven-day quarantine.
A player also may have up to six family members and quests stay at separate family hotels at the four sites. MLB said it will use best efforts to arrange visits in supervised, outdoor places.