Major League Baseball is ready to test its virtual ballpark for a regular-season game. Fans can “enter” the digital stadium on Wednesday, September 20, to watch the Tampa Bay Rays host the Los Angeles Angels. The league debuted the digital park earlier this summer for a celebrity softball game during this year’s All-Star Game activities. Next week’s game will mark the first non-exhibition game to deploy the metaverse-like digital park.
The game will include a “3D representation” of on-field avatars corresponding to the game’s real-time action, tracked using the same Sony Hawk-Eye cameras used for the league’s Statcast data. In addition, participants who prefer a traditional view can watch the game’s television broadcast on the virtual park’s giant Jumbotrons floating around the field and parking lot. There should be plenty to keep you occupied if the on-field play gets dull: The stadium supports spatial audio, and you can talk with nearby fans, play trivia games and take part in a scavenger hunt to win NFT collectible “cards.”
The entire setup sounds like something you’d eventually use with a VR or AR headset like the Meta Quest or Apple’s upcoming Vision Pro. While it may be a precursor to those more immersive experiences, you’ll access this game on flat screens through a web browser. MLB says a desktop or laptop provides the best experience, but it recommends Safari on iOS or Chrome on Android if you want to tune in on mobile.
The experience begins at 6:40PM ET on September 20. You’ll need to create an MLB profile to join. After that, you can head to the park’s webpage to create a custom avatar (rocking your favorite team’s apparel) and start exploring.
Update 9/15/23 10:48AM ET: The headline of this article has been updated to the correct team pairing for the game. We regret the error.