The owners of the Field of Dreams cinema site’s $80 million makeover includes a hotel
The new owners of the ‘Field of Dreams’ movie site hope people will return to the iconic farmhouse, just as James Earl Jones’ character prophesied in the 1989 film.
And now they plan to give people another reason to come.
Go the Distance, which owns and operates the sitewas to announce a massive makeover Thursday morning, using $80 million in private investment to build youth baseball and softball fields, team dormitories and a hotel, among other upgrades, near the film’s site , in rural Dyersville, Iowa.
“I am grateful for everything the game of baseball has given me throughout my career,” Frank Thomas, Hall of Famer and CEO of Go the Distance, said in a statement provided to the Des Moines Register. , “and now I am proud and delighted to lead a team that creates opportunities for players, fans and families to enjoy our national pastime and for teams to train and compete.”
Thomas’ group, which acquired a majority stake in the cinema site last year for an undisclosed sum, has high hopes for the revamp, which is expected to be completed in phases by the end of 2023.
The work will not stop there.
The hope is for Major League Baseball to return to the site after a successful visit in 2021. MLB game last season between the Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees showed just how special an event can be held on site. This match was played in a specially constructed stadium near the film’s iconic diamond. This season, the The Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds are scheduled to play a game there on August 11.
The 2021 game, which included a touching tribute from the film’s star Kevin Costner, drew rave reviews. It ended with the White Sox winning on a Tim Anderson home run.
After the game, FOX Sports announced that the game was the most watched regular season baseball game in 16 years, with 5.9 million viewers tuning in to FOX and FOX Deportes.
More high-profile baseball and softball action may be coming to the site soon.
According to the press release provided to the Register, future MLB games are being discussed, along with a permanent stadium to host games at the complex. The stadium could also host high school and college tournaments and championships for both men’s and women’s sports.
Additional works planned through 2025 include a 100,000 square foot land complex, an outdoor concert amphitheater, an RV park, a large park for disabled children and adults, and field jogging tracks corn surrounding the site.
The site has already become a popular tourist attraction for sports fans and film buffs. In the film, Costner portrayed an Iowa farmer who plows his corn to build a baseball diamond where the ghosts of Joe Jackson and other members of the banned 1919 Chicago White Sox can play. The Reds, one of the teams scheduled to play at the site in August, beat the White Sox in the 1919 World Series.
Earlier this month, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced plans for the state to allocate $100 million in federal funds to tourism projects under the Destination Iowa program. The program should help fund projects like the Dyersville site.
Go the Distance expects the development to create 170 new full-time equivalent jobs and events held there to generate more than $25 million in direct annual spending. The Go the Distance property, which has added 100 acres to the original 190 acres of the family farm and cinema site, will also continue to operate as a farm.
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“While substantial private investment will expand and improve our facilities, we are deeply committed to preserving the romantic experience of the Field of Dreams, including the views, baseball diamond, farmhouse and cornfield,” said Dan Evans, COO of Go the Distance. in a report. “These images will never change.”
Chicago real estate developer Rick Heidner, who was an initial investor in the film site with former owner Denise Stillman, is investing in the new project. A decade ago, Stillman also presented plans to build youth fields for tournaments at the site. This plan was greeted with skepticism by locals and fans who feared the site was becoming too commercialized.
Stillman, who died in 2018, said in 2015 that the legal wrangle between her property group and the group opposed to her plans, the Residential and Farm Advisory Committee, had spooked major investors.
His family sold a majority stake to Thomas and Partners last year. But his dream of building a sports complex on the site remains.
“Like baseball, successful real estate development requires preparation and hard work, then recognizing opportunities as they arise,” Heidner said in the release. “The opportunity is here now to ensure the Field of Dreams experience endures for generations.”
Tommy Birch, the Register’s sports entrepreneur and featured reporter, has worked at the newspaper since 2008. He is Iowa’s 2018 and 2020 Sports Writer of the Year. Join it at [email protected] or 515-284-8468. Follow him on Twitter @TommyBirch.