DYERSVILLE, Iowa — Major League Baseball is coming to the Field of Dreams movie site next year.
The Chicago White Sox announced this morning that they will play the New York Yankees on Aug. 13, 2020, at the iconic Dyersville site.
“This will put the Field of Dreams on another level of popularity,” said Roman Weinberg, director of operations for Go The Distance Baseball, the company that owns the movie site.
A press release states that the teams will play “the first-ever Major League game in the Hawkeye State in an 8,000-seat ballpark constructed in the corn on the Dyersville farm site where the classic film was shot.”
That ballpark will be built near the field featured in the movie. Construction on it will begin on Tuesday, Aug. 13, exactly one year from the date of the game and a little more than 30 years from the release of the movie starring Kevin Costner and based on W.P. Kinsella’s "Shoeless Joe" novel.
Weinberg said the ballpark construction will not impact operations at the famous tourist destination.
“The movie site will remain completely open,” he said. “People can play on the field as normal – for free. Our goal has always been to preserve the Field of Dreams.”
Played on a Thursday, the game will be considered a White Sox home game, followed by a Friday off day before the two clubs resume their three-game series at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago on that Saturday. Presented by GEICO, the game will be broadcast nationally on FOX.
“It’s amazing. It’s beyond a unique opportunity,” said Keith Rahe, president and CEO of Travel Dubuque. “For Major League Baseball to come to Dyersville and construct a diamond, and the New York Yankees play the Chicago White Sox is just unreal. The amount of recognition coming, not only to the Field of Dreams, is something you can’t put a price tag on.
"The New York Yankees' brand is known throughout the entire world.”
Tickets are expected to be a hot commodity. There is the sizeable regional interest in the White Sox, the national and even international reach of the storied Yankees franchise and the iconic status of the Field of Dreams.
Additionally, both teams play in much, much larger stadiums normally. According to ESPN, the Yankees average more than 41,500 fans per home game, while the White Sox average about 22,000.
Scott Reifert, vice president of communications with the White Sox, wrote in an email to the Telegraph Herald that MLB officials said ticket availability will be “very limited” for the game.
“Details will be announced by MLB in coming months – my guess is closer to spring training,” Reifert wrote.
Reifert grew up in Muscatine, Iowa.
“So, this is as close to a home game as I am going to get in 30 years with the White Sox,” he wrote.
‘EVERY POSITIVE EMOTION OUT THERE’
Dyersville City Administrator Mick Michel said municipal officials learned the news Wednesday night.
“How great is this for our community, for Dubuque County and for Iowa? The city is very enthusiastic and excited," he said. "For the city, there is every positive emotion out there. You can’t express it using words. We are very happy.”
He said issues such as parking will be handled by MLB and the Field of Dreams site.
“Since we’re the host city, we’re here to help,” he said.
A community of about 4,200 people, Dyersville has hosted large events before.
“We can handle this type of event. We’ve proven ourselves the past 30 years with the (National Farm Toy Show), Team of Dreams (events at the Field of Dreams), and Netflix had a previous event with Kevin Costner,” Michel said. “We’re looking forward to having 8,000 guests in Dyersville.”
Weinberg said Go The Distance Baseball will collaborate with MLB and its corporate partners on planning for the game.
“We’re no strangers to large-scale events,” Weinberg said.
He noted that the annual Field of Dreams events at the movie site draw thousands and other special events have drawn more.
“This (game) is a little larger than what we are used to, but the 25th-anniversary event brought in close to 8,000 people," he said.
IF YOU BUILD IT …
The design of the new ballpark in Dyersville will echo Comiskey Park, the home of the White Sox from 1910 to 1990.
“My understanding is there are quite a few cool design elements to the ballpark that link it to our Old Comiskey Park and to the movie,” Reifert wrote.
The right-field wall will include windows to show the cornfields beyond the ballpark, which will overlook the movie set, according to the press release. Fans attending the game will walk along a pathway through a cornfield.
“We have held some similar events in recent years, such as at Fort Bragg in 2016 and in Williamsport, Pa., annually since 2017, and will be drawing from experiences like those,” wrote Michael Teevan, vice president of communications under MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, in an email to the TH. “We expect that the dimensions of the field will be in line with those of an average MLB ballpark.”
Teevan did not have a cost estimate for construction of the park.
“The field itself will stay intact after the Yankees-White Sox game next August,” Teevan wrote. “Following the event, our understanding is that Go The Distance Baseball will consider other potential uses for the field.”
Weinberg echoed that, saying, “We will continue to look for opportunities to use it.”
‘DREAM COME TRUE’
Weinberg said conversations about playing a game at the movie site began in 2015 between Go The Distance Baseball and Major League Baseball.
“It has come to fruition through a long process,” he said.
Rahe, who has been associated with the Field of Dreams site for about 30 years in a variety of capacities, said hosting a major league game always was a dream of Denise Stillman, the former CEO of Go the Distance Baseball who died of liver cancer in November.
“Everybody was holding their breath that it would happen. It’s kind of a dream come true,” Rahe said. “Hats off to Denise. This was her dream, and she stayed with it. I know she’ll be there that night. What a great thing for her legacy.”