Build it. Erase it. That's what the Field of Dreams Movie Site is planning to do in order to host a Major League Baseball game between the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago White Sox this summer.
While summer plans are up in the air across the United States due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MLB is moving forward with the idea of playing Aug. 13 in Dyersville, Iowa. The original baseball field from "Field of Dreams" isn't suitable to host a MLB game, therefore, BaAM, Populous and BrightView are constructing a temporary 8,000-seat stadium next to the field and farm where the 1989 movie was filmed.
"There will be a walking path stemming from center field of the original Field of Dreams leading to this mesmerizing new major league diamond," says Roman Weinberg, the director of operations at the site. "Fans in attendance will then have to walk on the original field — where it all started in 1988 when filming began — and pay homage to all that had a part to play in the making of the film, as well as the preservation and maintenance of the site.
"All fans in attendance for the game will also have a clear view of the Field of Dreams field in the distance, with all those familiar lights, which is sure to make the hair stand on the back of the necks of attendees."
The stadium is being constructed in a way that pays homage to Comiskey Park — the former home of the White Sox. Weinberg says the project really started to take shape when sod was laid on the field in early May. As of early June, MLB, which has been focused on negotiating with the MLB Players Association on how to return to action months after the season was delayed by the coronavirus, hasn't told the movie site or construction companies to abandon the project.
"Field of Dreams," which was nominated for Best Picture at the 1990 Academy Awards, uses the small-town feel of Dyersville to evoke the purity of baseball. The goal of the game, which was originally scheduled to be between the White Sox and the New York Yankees, is to bring that feel to modern-day baseball.
"As a sport that is proud of its history linking generations, Major League Baseball is excited to bring a regular-season game to the site of 'Field of Dreams,' " MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in the league's announcement of the game. "We look forward to celebrating the movie's enduring message of how baseball brings people together at this special cornfield in Iowa."
"Our movie site has the rare ability of speaking to people on a profound, personal level and eliciting emotions and memories out of visitors that they themselves may have forgotten," Weinberg says. "The simplicity and serenity of the site forces us to step back from our everyday lives and escape to our majestic ball field in rural Iowa. It also serves as a source of motivation and inspiration for many that have stepped foot on the field."
The plan is to keep the new field in existence after the game is played, but to remove the surrounding stadium and amenities necessary to host MLB teams and air the game live on FOX. The field will likely be a new attraction at the movie site, which has long offered free admission to the baseball field while visitors can purchase tours of the home.
"The fact that the first ever Major League Baseball game in the state of Iowa is being held at one of the most popular tourist attractions in the state — a 30-plus-year-old movie site — is remarkable and a testament to the impact the field has had and continues to have on society and in pop culture," Weinberg says. "This game ensures the field's prolonged life for decades to come and, once again, has put the site, the city of Dyersville and the state of Iowa in the spotlight."
MLB has played games at other temporary sites in the past, including the Little League Classic at Bowman Field in Williamsport, Pa., a game at the military base in Fort Bragg, N.C., and exhibitions in Havana, Cuba. The Little League Classic, which hosted about 2,500 fans, will remain the smallest site at which MLB has played.
The baseball shrine in Dyersville would like to remain in the rotation for future opportunities in the baseball world.
"It is our goal to hold other national events such as this and share the nature of America's pastime and our rich Iowa culture with the rest of the world," Weinberg says. "This game has helped open the door for many growth opportunities, and we are carefully exploring all possibilities. We do however ensure our fans that the projects we pursue in the future will stay true to the nature of the site and keep the dream alive."
This article originally appeared in the July | August 2020 issue of Athletic Business with the title "Temporary MLB stadium being built at Field of Dreams." Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.