Major League Baseball just held a highly successful “Field of Dreams” game between the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox in an Iowa cornfield.
Why doesn’t the NBA play Knicks-Nets in Rucker Park or Lakers-Clippers at Venice Beach?
NBA Executive Vice President of Basketball Strategy & Analytics Evan Wasch on “The Crossover” podcast:
The biggest concern is the basketball one you highlight, that 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.
We’ve explored it, and we’ll continue to talk about it. 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 outside.
Yes, most baseball games are already played outside. But basketball games are OFTEN played outside.
Just not NBA games.
Yet, it has happened. The Phoenix Suns hosted three outdoor preseason games in Indian Wells, Calif., 2008-2010. So, it’s at least feasible.
NBA regular-season games in Rucker Park or at Venice Beach would draw big ratings. Between emotional connections to those famed courts and sheer curiosity, people would watch.
Fan seating would be challenging, but tickets could be expensive to offset limited attendance. People would pay for the once-in-a-lifetime experience (though it could turn into a few-times-a-year experience).
A bigger challenge could be negotiating a special TV event into the already-set national-TV contracts. But the league is up for new TV deals soon.
Of course, player-safety concerns factor. Unpredictable weather could create scheduling and other logistical headaches.
But these types of things usually happen if the money is right.