“If you build it, he will come.”
That’s what the voice among the cornfields says in the 1989 classic baseball film Field of Dreams. The movie, which was nominated for an Academy Award, tells the story of an Iowa farmer who builds a baseball field on his Iowa cornfields for the ghosts of former players. It remains one of the most beloved baseball films of all time almost 30 years after its debut. Now in 2017, new opportunities are being offered to fans of all ages in the hope that future generations will continue to appreciate the movie and what it stands for.
Dyersville, Iowa, is home to the Field of Dreams movie site and is a popular tourist attraction where fans are able to play catch on the same field as “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. However, that was as far as people could go. Last November, the first floor of the house used in the movie was restored to look like the original set and opened up to the public for 30-minute guided tours that share stories of what filming was like and talk about the magic of the Field of Dreams.
“We kept getting requests for it,” said Denise Stillman, President and CEO of Go the Distance Baseball, which began operating the house in 2011 after they bought it from the Lansing family, who had owned the land since 1906. “We wanted to provide what people were asking for. So many people would stop by and ask if they could see the home, and for the last few years they’ve been told, ‘No,’ so we made some shifts in how we operate the business out of the home and made it work for everyone.”
Part of the growth at the Field of Dreams that the new ownership envisions includes the building of the brand new Ballpark Heaven, which will be a world-class baseball and softball tournament complex for young kids and travel teams. The fields, which should open by May of 2018, will be adjacent to the Field of Dreams. To start, there will be a mix of six baseball and softball fields comprised of turf infields and grass outfields.
“Our main goal is to preserve the movie site just as it is. Gravel roads, pristine ballfield with little wood bleachers and a white picket fence in front of the farmhouse,” said Stillman. “That will all remain, but our goal is to share that beauty with more children. Travel teams, aged anywhere from 10-and-under teams to 14-and-under teams, will get a chance to experience the magic of the Field of Dreams.”
This Memorial Day Weekend, the All-Star Ballpark Heaven Classic Tournament will be held at the Dubuque Sports Complex while Ballpark Heaven is finalized in Dyersville. For the first time, 11U-12U and 13U-14U teams that have entered the tournament in Iowa will be playing for a spot at the National Youth Baseball Championship at Baseball Heaven in Long Island, New York.
While at the tournament, teams will take part in a skills competition and screenings of Field of Dreams at the movie site itself, bringing the mystique of the film to life. As generations of kids who may not know about Field of Dreams grow up, the new ownership wants to inspire them and ensure the story lives on.
“Field of Dreams is more than a baseball movie,” said Stillman. “Any teenager or young pre-teen that gets a chance to watch it should. They’ll not only learn a lot about themselves, but they’ll learn about the importance of connections with family. Just watch the movie, and you’ll get a special feeling.”
Field of Dreams is all about connections with family and what one will do to rekindle lost relationships. With new home tours, a soon-to-be-ready tournament complex, and the original movie site kept in top shape, Dyersville is built for families and people to come experience the magic together. People will most definitely come.
Photography courtesy of Field of Dreams Movie Site