Not every film withstands the test of time, continuing to capture hearts for generations. Whether it be its quintessential American feel or the nostalgia of watching baseball’s biggest names return to Ray Kinsella’s field, something keeps people around the globe gravitating towards Field of Dreams.
On April 21, 1989, the classic American film Field of Dreams was released in theaters and took the country by storm. Written and directed by Phil Alden Robinson as an adaptation of W. P. Kinsella’s 1982 novel Shoeless Joe, the film is a beloved sports fantasy story. The classic hit was primarily filmed in Dyersville, Iowa at a local farm transformed into a baseball field. Following its release, the main filming site was maintained as a tourist destination, attracting thousands of visitors year after year.
If You Build It, They Will Come
30 years later, the iconic quote still holds true. Almost ten years ago, the idea came up to truly bring the magic of the movie to life – by hosting a real Major League Baseball game at the Field of Dreams Movie Site. The site’s owners since 2012, Denise and Michael Stillman, had the vision to turn the plot into a larger scale field. Discussions snowballed and plans began to construct a new stadium behind the original field. Soon enough, their dreams came true when the MLB scheduled a Field of Dreams game for the 2020 season. With the Covid-19 pandemic, the game was postponed to Thursday, August 12, 2021. Unfortunately, Denise Stillman passed away in 2018. Her legacy lives on through this game, and the thousands of fans that will continue to visit the movie site and marvel at its magic.
The Planning Process
We had the opportunity to meet with Tyler Daugherty, VP of Community Engagement at Travel Dubuque. Daugherty and Travel Dubuque have been integral in this extensive planning process. “We set up a committee with Dyersville Economic Development, Dyersville Chamber, Travel Dubuque, which is us, and city council members. In addition, the number of volunteers that we have must be over 1,000,” Daugherty says. “This will be nationally televised throughout the country on FOX Sports. It takes a small army to pull this off. If you’ve seen the field and how immaculate it is, you understand, it takes some time to make it look this great.”
“We are talking about the New York Yankees, one of the most recognizable sports brands in the world, and the Chicago White Sox, who are doing incredibly this year, out at the Field of Dreams, which is 35 years in the making for a movie site. It’s just all incredible. Personally, I do think it is the biggest sporting event ever for the state of Iowa,” Daugherty says. The stadium itself is permanent, with temporary seating. The stadium is also equipped with a scoreboard at center field, dugouts, and suites. “They have a round-the-clock grounds crew that is there making sure there is no brown spot on that grass. They’re watering the corn, so it will be the nicest corn in the country,” Daugherty laughs.
Of course, tickets are a hot commodity for the game on Thursday. An allotment went to the Chicago White Sox, the New York Yankees and corporate sponsors. As for the general public, an allotment of 1,000+ tickets were available through a lottery system for individuals with an Iowa zip code. If selected, individuals had the opportunity to purchase two tickets at $375 each. “Just to say that you were one of the 8,000 people to experience the first MLB game at the Field of Dreams is pretty neat,” Daugherty comments.
Beyond the Game
Presented by Travel Iowa and MidwestOne, Beyond the Game is a baseball experience from August 11-12, 2021. For those not able to attend the game, Beyond the Game is a way to get involved and experience the thrill leading up to the big night. On both days, Travel Dubuque is sponsoring Kids Zone, a free family-friendly event at West Side Park in Dyersville with inflatables, face painting, and more. Beyond the Game will also feature food and beer vendors, a movie night, and a country concert at Commercial Club Park with Shy Carter, Ingrid Andress, and Maddie & Tae. On Wednesday evening, FOX will be nationally televising a youth baseball game on the original Field of Dreams field between a team from Chicago and a team from New York.
The night of the game, the Official MLB Viewing Party will be held at City Square in Dyersville, with the broadcast beginning at 6:00pm and the first pitch at 6:20pm. If you’re planning to visit the area, be sure to also check out the If You Build It Exhibit in Dyersville, dedicated to the history of the film and its behind-the-scenes stories.
Is this Heaven? No, it’s Iowa!
Baseball has a very rich history within the Dubuque community and Iowa as a whole. Charles Comiskey, prior owner of the Chicago White Sox, was a former Dubuque resident, among many other MLB players and team owners. Travel Dubuque itself has strong ties to the Field of Dreams Movie Site. Keith Rahe, President & CEO of Travel Dubuque, has been involved with the Field of Dream’s world-famous Ghost Players and events that it has hosted over the last 30 years. Tyler Daugherty appreciates the sense of connection to the site as a part of Travel Dubuque. “You go out there, and people have said it, and they say it in the movie- there honestly is something magical about the Field of Dreams. We’ve done events out there, like Team of Dreams for example, where we’ve brought Hall of Famers back. They’ll come out of the corn, you’ll see this mist appear, and it’s one of the coolest things you could ever see. It’s hard to explain unless you’ve experienced it, but there really is a sense of magic about it,” he comments.
Tune into FOX on Thursday evening beginning at 5pm CT to catch this historical game. “For the state, it’s going to be so impactful. If we do get 30-50,000 people, they will be coming from all over the country through all our communities and seeing what Iowa is really made of. What that does for an economic impact and tourism for our area, let alone the state, we’ll now have another generation of families and businesses that are going to benefit because of it. It’s hard to put an impact on this. This game alone will advance the Field of Dreams for another 30 years,” Daugherty says.
Ray, people will come Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won’t mind if you look around, you’ll say. It’s only $20 per person. They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray.Field of Dreams – James Earl Jones as Terence Mann
For more information on the Field of Dreams game and the Beyond the Game events, head to www.traveldubuque.com for current updates.
To check out the Field of Dreams Movie Site, head to its facility profile on Playeasy here! The site is open for tours, and the original field is open for rentals to play there yourself!