They settled upon London Stadium, which was ovular enough thanks to its initial service as the track and field venue for the 2012 Summer Olympics (its main use these days is as the home ground for the Premier League’s West Ham United). But still, the logistics were a bit of a challenge: Officials couldn’t dig up or alter West Ham’s natural-grass pitch, so they had to set down an artificial turf field and pour clay and dirt over that turf, and they couldn’t dig any holes for anchoring purposes so things had to be balanced and weighted perfectly. And to fit the field into the stadium, the outfield dimensions were somewhat short when compared with typical MLB confines: 330 feet to left and right field and just 385 feet to dead center, shorter than any North American MLB stadium.
A 16-foot-high wall in center field — dubbed the “mini Green Monster” by MLB senior field coordinator and consultant Murray Cook — will hopefully keep some hard-hit balls in the park, and a massive amount of foul territory (more than 4,000 square feet more than at Oakland Coliseum, the MLB standard-bearer in that category) will further help out the pitchers.
“Is it perfect? No,’’ Jim Small, MLB senior vice president of international business, told USA Today. “But the challenge with baseball is fitting a baseball field into a facility. You can’t put it on a soccer field like you can in the NFL. There’s just not enough room, so that limits us where we can go.
“But we are comfortable with the dimensions here. The great thing about baseball is there is no cookie-cutter setup. These are two perfect examples with the [short] right field at Yankee Stadium and the Pesky Pole at Fenway."
The right field fence at Yankee Stadium is just 314 feet from home plate and Fenway Park’s Pesky Pole is officially only 302 feet down the first base line (MLB’s shortest outfield distance), so left-handed batters actually will need a little more pop in London.