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Capacity for London Series games increased by 5,000 seats

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Back in November we learned about the seating and pricing for the London Series games between the Yankees and the Red Sox. The upshot: seats are expensive: the nosebleeds in the outfield were set at $76 a piece. Outfield bleacher seats were $153. Anything better than bleachers or a mile away on a distant, outer ring of the stadium began at nearly $300 a pop. Sitting in the premium seats behind home plate: $500. All of that before “service charges and handling fees,” which everyone knows are significant ad-ons to ticket prices.

Well, those tickets sold out. What’s more, the sellout inspired the organizers of the affair to add even more seats: 5,000 to be precise:

I have an American friend who lives in the UK who has some nosebleed tickets to the series. His seats, he says, “are on the left field foul line, at the top of the stadium. The only thing behind me is a long fall.” He paid £150 for those, which is just under $200. Given that those seats are already in the stratosphere, I can’t imagine how bad these new £30 — around $40 — seats will be.

As I wrote back in November, I fully understand that tickets for this game are in super high demand due to it being a unique event. Thus the high prices, thus the sellout and thus the addition of even more seats. The market is the market and MLB is taking its lead from the market.

But I can’t imagine the product is going to be good for anyone paying anything short of several hundred dollars per seat. While one would hope that the biggest takeaway of a newly-created British baseball fan would be how amazing Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge are, the vast majority of spectators are going to have a terrible view and will get almost nothing out of the experience other than the ability to say “I was there.”

Major League Baseball can follow the market and maximize revenue from this contest or it can provide a good product that will please fans and, hopefully, spur interest and growth in baseball in the United Kingdom. It does not seem to me, however, that it can do both. They have apparently chosen which path to take.

Straight-away center field will be 385 feet at London Stadium

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Marley Rivera of ESPN has a story about some of the on-field and in-game entertainment, as well as some aspects of the field conditions, for this weekend’s London Series.

The fun stuff: a mascot race, not unlike the Sausage Race at Miller Park or the President’s race at Nationals Park. The mascots for London: Winston Churchill, Freddie Mercury, Henry VIII and the Loch Ness Monster. I suppose that’s OK but, frankly, I’d go with Roger Bannister, Shakespeare, Charles Darwin and Guy Fawkes. Of course no one asks me these things.

There will also be a “Beat the Streak”-style race which had better use the theme to “Chariots of Fire” or else what the heck are we even doing here.

They’ve also taught ushers and various volunteers who will be on-site to sing “Take me out to the ballgame,” which is a pretty good idea given how important that is to baseball. As a cultural exchange, I think some major league team should start using “Vindaloo” by Fat Les during the seventh inning stretch here. It’s a banger. It also seems to capture England a bit more accurately than, say, “Downton Abbey” or “The Crown.”

That’s all good fun I suppose. But here’s some stuff that actually affects the game:

The end result will have some interesting dimensions. The field will be 330 feet down each foul line, and it will have a distance of 385 feet to center field, which will feature a 16-foot wall. Cook also said it would have an expanded, “Oakland-like” foul territory, referencing the Athletics’ Oakland Coliseum expanse.

Those dimensions are unavoidable given that the square peg that is a baseball field is being shoved into the round hole that is a soccer stadium. As Murray Cook, MLB’s senior field coordinator tells Rivera, that sort of thing, while perhaps less than ideal, is at least in keeping with baseball’s strong tradition of irregular field conditions. It will, however, be one of the shortest dead center distances in baseball history.

Oh, and then there’s this:

Protective netting was also an important issue addressed when building the ballpark, with Cook stressing that his team has implemented netting that “is the largest you’ll ever see in any major league ballpark.”

[Craig makes a mental note to bookmark this for the next time MLB says it won’t mandate extended netting in the U.S. because doing so is too difficult]