DYERSVILLE, Iowa — If you build it, they will come.
Major League Baseball has seen that with trips to an Iowa cornfield the past two years for the Field of Dreams game, and they’re returning to Europe next summer after a two-year delay for the second ever MLB London Series.
Which raises the question: Where should MLB go next?
“Oh man, it’s a great question,” Cubs president Jed Hoyer said at the Field of Dreams this week.
When the Cubs play in London next June, it will mark their third regular season series outside the continental United States.
They previously played in Puerto Rico and Japan, and MLB has played regular season games in Australia and Mexico. In 1999, the Orioles played an exhibition game in Havana against the Cuban national team.
MLB has also played spring training games in the Dominican Republic, including in 2020. It would be a natural choice for a regular season event to bring the game to the roots of so many great players.
“It would be cool to play in the Dominican at some point and have a real major-league game down there given the incredible support,” Hoyer said. “I just hope they keep on pushing the boundaries and exploring new places."
While the Field of Dreams game is a made-for-television spectacle, it also is played in a state where no major-league team resides.
Going to new places is an opportunity for MLB to reach audiences that may otherwise not have accessibility to attend games.
“I would say the Dominican Republic,” Cubs rookie Christopher Morel said through team translator Will Nadal. “But also, countries or places in the world where there's low income, where families don't really have access to go and watch a game or have money to go to a game.
“I'd say make a big event where the ticket entry would be free, and kids and families would be able to enjoy the experience of watching a Major League Baseball game.”
MLB Network’s Harold Reynolds has pitched the idea of MLB playing a game in New Jersey at Hinchliffe Stadium, one of the last remaining Negro Leagues ballparks.
The ballpark is currently undergoing a $94 million renovation.
“I think we should do something based around the Negro League culture,” Cubs starter Marcus Stroman said. “I have a couple ideas, but we'll see where it goes.
“Definitely within the inner-city community, creating an atmosphere within an inner-city community that could be resembling of Negro Leagues.”
Stroman mentioned the idea of MLB hosting an event like the Field of Dreams game based on “Hardball,” the 2001 film about a Little League team from the Cabrini Green housing project in Chicago.
“Being an African American in the big leagues, it's becoming less and less population of us in the big leagues,” Stroman said.
“I think it's important to spread light and to show the inner-city youth, gain some excitement for them and give them role models to look up to where they may not normally have them on a day to day.”
Ian Happ, the Cubs’ players union representative, mentioned the idea of MLB and the players forming a committee to have these discussions about where the league should host future events.
“Brooklyn is a really cool idea, like the Brooklyn Dodgers and all of those memories,” Happ said. “I think some of the inner cities where baseball is so important and come alive, I think that's really important. That's just domestically.
“I think the international stuff, continuing to honor a lot of our Latin American players who bring so much to the game and have these unbelievable fanbases that follow them and care and support us. I think we need to keep doing those experiences, too."
If you want to look at baseball expansion in an entirely different way, how about playing somewhere resembling the first iconic sporting venue?
Justin Steele’s fiancé, Libby, has family from Italy, where MLB has never played. Taking the game to a unique setting is another opportunity for growth.
“Playing in a colosseum-type-thing in Rome, that would be pretty cool," Steele said.
Patrick Wisdom played two seasons of college summer ball in Alaska, which, like Hawaii, has no professional teams, he pointed out.
“Something like that to draw fans out and make it a destination thing like they're doing with London,” Wisdom said. "I think something like that would be kind of fun.”
There’s no shortage of potential destinations for future marquee MLB events.
After two successful Field of Dreams experiences, the league needs to keep the momentum going.
“We can have off days. We can have flights to figure it out,” Hoyer said. “But to keep on growing the game internationally and in places that love baseball, to give them the reward of a series I think is great.”