It's 'Game On' in the Field of Dreams - Which May Host Sports Tourism Too
12 Feb, 2021By: Michael Popke
And if That's Not Enough, the NHL is Building a Temporary Venue on a Golf Course
If you build it, will he come? Event owners are counting on it. Two big games, one of which is the long-awaited Field of Dreams match-up in Dyersville, Iowa, are coming to venues that will be purpose-built to host. The other, according to the NHL, will take place on a rink built…on the 18th fairway of a golf course.
Major League Baseball will step up to the plate for the second time in as many years this summer with plans to host the MLB at Field of Dreams game at the beloved Field of Dreams movie site in Dyersville, Iowa (which has become a tourist attraction in its own right).
The New York Yankees are scheduled to take on the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 12, 2021, in a game to be broadcast on FOX Sports from an 8,000-seat temporary ballpark constructed adjacent to the movie site.
If the event goes on as scheduled, it will be the first Major League game ever played in Iowa. Back in 2019, SDM reported on planning for the original event, as business owners in and around Dyersville (2019 population: 4,130) already were preparing for 2020’s game.
“We’re hearing that people are going to come early and kind of check out the state; check out the town,” Karla Thompson, executive director of the Dyersville Area Chamber of Commerce, told CBS affiliate KGAN-TV at the time. “So we’re thinking it’s going to be a big economic impact.”
A lot has changed over the intervening 18 months, although players are optimistic fans finally will be able to go out to the ol’ ballgame in 2021. MLB officials say they hope to be able to decide on spectator attendance in the months ahead.
“Man, you will never, ever, take fans for grated again,” Los Angeles Dodgers outfield Cody Bellinger told USA Today in January. “You realize how much they impact the game. How much fun they make the game. We’re all just looking forward to getting back to normal again.”
Meanwhile, fundraising continues on the Field of Dreams website to create “Ballpark Heaven,” a 21-field youth sports complex named after the film’s famous line (“Is this heaven?” “It’s Iowa.”) that also will include the MLB stadium and the original field. Plans call for the completed facility to host weekend and weeklong tournaments for players ages 8-16.
MLB isn’t the only pro sports league that plans to play in a specially constructed outdoor facility this year. The National Hockey League canceled its annual outdoor Winter Classic this year — slated for Target Field in Minneapolis — due to the coronavirus pandemic, but that doesn’t mean pro hockey won’t be played outdoors this season.
The 18th fairway of the Edgewood Tahoe Resort golf course in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, will host the two-day “NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe” on Feb. 20-21. The new event will feature the Colorado Avalanche vs. the Las Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday and the Philadelphia Flyers vs. the Boston Bruins on Sunday. Both games will be played without spectators (as have all NHL matchups this season), but they will be broadcast on NBC in the United States. NHL officials are hoping to be able to return to an interesting site, with fans present, in years to come.
“Ever since we began staging outdoor games in 2003 and made it a regular feature of our annual schedule in 2008, we have considered myriad non-stadium settings, but they always were rendered impractical because of the sheer volume of demand from our fans to attend,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “This season, unable to host our usual huge crowds at such events, we will continue our tradition of taking the game and our players back to their outdoor roots … on an open-air rink.”
That rink will be set on a golf course that has hosted the annual American Century Championship since 1990. Nestled alongside the scenic Lake Tahoe shoreline, Edgewood Tahoe Resort is a 235-acre, LEED-certified luxurious mountain haven overlooking the Sierra Nevada. The games will mark the 31st and 32nd times the NHL has hosted outdoor regular-season matchups. Click herefor the league’s complete outdoor history.
Lake Tahoe was chosen over several other locations in as many as seven states and three Canadian provinces, reports the Tahoe Daily Tribune. (The fact that the resort and the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority have a strong relationship with NBC and the American Century Championship probably didn’t hurt, either.) The primary objective, according to the paper, was to find “a picturesque landscape where [NHL officials] could build an ice rink surrounded by snow-covered mountains for maximum visual impact.”
“We went to Tahoe, a very small group, and we were blown away by the setting, the blank canvas that it presents for us,” Steve Mayer, the NHL’s chief content producer, told the newspaper. “It’s hosted major events before. We felt very confident … that we would be able to hold a world-class event, and Tahoe will be a great host. It was a pretty easy decision."