Extra Innings for MLB’s Field of Dreams: Another Game and a Sports Complex | Sports Destination Management

Extra Innings for MLB’s Field of Dreams: Another Game and a Sports Complex

Apr 21, 2022 | By: Michael Popke

The Field of Dreams site, with the farmhouse in the background. Photo © Sandra Foyt | Dreamstime.com
Last August’s Field of Dreams Game between the Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees at a newly constructed 8,000-seat temporary field on the iconic movie site in Dyersville, Iowa, was a dream come true for players, fans and just about anybody who loves a feel-good story.

The star of the 1989 titular film, Kevin Costner, paid tribute the movie’s legacy, and players took the field in vintage uniforms by entering through a field of tall corn. The game lived up to the hype and was capped by a walk-off home run by Chicago’s Tim Anderson to give the White Sox a thrilling 9-8 win.

Watch this video, and we dare you not to get goosebumps.

On August 11, Major League Baseball will host a sequel of sorts, when the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds meet in Dyersville for a National League Central matchup. But the new owners of the Field of Dreams site are now banking on more than just professional players and their fans to come.

Go the Distance — which purchased controlling interest in the site in 2021 for an undisclosed amount and is led by baseball Hall of Famer Frank Thomas — plans to use $80 million in private investments to build nine youth baseball and softball fields, team dormitories and a hotel in rural Dyersville, according to the Des Moines Register. Plans call for the project to be completed in phases by the end of 2023. The project will add nearly 100 acres to the original 190-acre footprint, and the Field of Dreams property also will operate as a working farm.

“In six short months we have accomplished a great deal,” Thomas told a crowd assembled in the site’s event barn, according to the Dyersville Commercial newspaper. “We have been building relationships and trust with local residents, community leaders and economic development partners. We are focusing on the 2022 tournament season and have more than 350 youth baseball and softball teams registered to play tournaments this summer in Dyersville and experience the Field of Dreams.”

According to the Des Moines Register:

Future MLB games are being discussed, along with a permanent stadium to host the games at the complex. The stadium could also host high school and college tournaments and championships for men’s and women’s sports.

Additional planned work through 2025 calls for a 100,000-square-foot fieldhouse, an outdoor concert amphitheater, an RV park, a large park inclusive for children and adults with disabilities, and jogging trails throughout the cornfields surrounding the site.

The newspaper also reports that the project is expected to receive funding from the Destination Iowa program, which will allocate $100 million of federal money to tourism projects. Go the Distance expects the development will add 170 new full-time equivalent jobs and bring in more than $25 million in direct annual spending.

The existing movie site will remain intact, while the base of the temporary ballpark built for the 2021 White Sox-Yankees game will be expanded into a permanent facility, according to BallparkDigest.com.

“While the substantial private investment will expand and enhance our facilities, we are deeply committed to preserving the romantic experience of the Field of Dreams, including the views, the baseball diamond, the farmhouse and the cornfield,” Go the Distance Chief Operating Officer Dan Evans (also a longtime executive for five MLB franchises) said in a statement. “Those images will never change.”

As BallparkDigest.com notes, Go the Distance’s plan “isn’t exactly new — the late Denise Stillman[the site’s previous owner] and partners had sought investors for such a development before she passed away [in 2018] — but the exact scope of the project is new and beyond Stillman’s original vision.”

Dyersville is located less than 40 miles west of Dubuque, where various scenes fromField of Dreams were filmed.

“Preserving and enhancing one of Iowa’s top tourism destinations makes this project a win-win for the local and state economies,” Keith Rahe, President and Chief Executive Office of Travel Dubuque said in a statement. “Emerging from the pandemic, the multi-billion-dollar youth sports industry has shown its resilience and will continue to grow, so these plans will ensure that the movie site’s place in the lore of America’s pastime is secure for future generations.”

Meanwhile, the original Field of Dreams movie site remains open year-round from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (CST).

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