The Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins will play their July 3 regular-season matchup at a newly constructed ballpark at Fort Bragg Military base in North Carolina, MLB and the MLB Players Association said in a joint release Tuesday.
"Major League Baseball's boundless gratitude to our military has led us to a unique event that will benefit the men and women of Fort Bragg and their families for many years," Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement, per MLB.com's John Schlegel. "I thank the Braves and the Marlins for their participation and all of our Clubs and Players for contributing to this gesture, which will stand as a fitting new chapter in the National Pastime's proud and distinguished military history."
The game is the first regular-season game to ever be played on an active military base in United States professional sports history. ESPN will broadcast the game as its Sunday Night Baseball telecast, which will come as part of the Independence Day celebration.
The ballpark, which will be converted into a softball field and multipurpose facility, has a capacity of 12,500. MLB and the MLBPA collaborated on the field's construction and gave it as a gift to military members. MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark issued a statement thanking the service men and women for their protection, per Schlegel:
As the son of a Navy officer, I am extremely proud to stand with all Players and Major League Baseball as we honor our nation's military and our country, through the playing of a regular season game in historic Fort Bragg on Fourth of July weekend. Many players are the grandsons, sons and brothers of men and women who have served or continue to serve our country. This one-of-a-kind ballpark construction project provides us with an opportunity to say 'thank you' to all who serve to protect our great nation.
The Braves will give up one home game for the honor of hosting this contest. The North Carolina military base is one of the largest in the world, housing the Army's special and airborne forces. It has been around for nearly a century, becoming a vital resource for the United States during World War II. Fort Bragg continues to be the most densely populated military base in the U.S.
The donation of the field by MLB and the MLBPA, as well as the Braves' and Marlins' participation in the event, is a commendable service to those who risk their lives to keep this country safe. There's nothing else to say here other than to give kudos to MLB, the MLBPA and all involved for making this happen.