DYERSVILLE, Iowa — In many ways, the scene at the Field of Dreams movie site Tuesday afternoon was a typical one.
Families milled about the legendary baseball field, played a quick game of catch and explored the iconic cornfields that frame the outfield grass.
Ashtyn Cable, of Mediapolis, found a weathered baseball amid the rows of corn. As the boy displayed his trophy, he declared his first visit to the famous Dyersville field a success — and boldly declared his intent to return in exactly one year.
“This has been great,” he said. “Being here makes me want to come back and see the (Major League Baseball) game one year from now.”
References to the recently announced Aug. 13, 2020, clash between the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees were plentiful Tuesday, adding an extra buzz to a site already beloved by baseball fans.
Construction of a new stadium, capable of holding 8,000 people, is slated to begin this week near the iconic field.
DYERSVILLE ECONOMIC BOOM
Dyersville Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Karla Thompson said her office has been inundated with calls since the game was announced Thursday morning from those seeking tickets to the game.
She emphasized that the chamber doesn’t have any tickets to distribute, but she enjoys the conversations nonetheless.
“I have learned that a lot of people are planning vacations around this game,” she said.
Local businesses and economic development officials are ironing out the best ways to take advantage of the tourism boost. Thompson said chamber officials discussed the possibility of “pop-up shops” that could temporarily fill any empty storefronts in the weeks leading up to the game.
Carol Olberding, the owner of the newly opened Textile Brewing Co. in Dyersville, said the staff there has a discussion scheduled this week with Chicago-based Revolution Brewing. They also reached out to New York-based Blue Point Brewing Co., maker of the Yankee-inspired Pinstripe Pils.
Her goal is to collaborate with the breweries on beer tho celebrate next year’s game.
“Who doesn’t love baseball and beer?” she asked.
HOTELS FILLING UP
Hotels in Dyersville and beyond already have fielded a flurry of calls related to the 2020 game.
In some cases, the rooms already have been spoken for.
Luke Renner, director of sales at TownePlace Suites by Marriott Dubuque Downtown, said production crews working the Yankees-White Sox game already booked about 70% of the Millwork District hotel for the entire month leading up to the matchup. They also will stick around for a week or two after the game.
The remaining 30% of rooms will be occupied by other long-term clients.
Even so, the phone keeps ringing.
“We’ve been getting a ton of East Coast calls from Yankees fans looking for a place to stay,” he said.
Keith Rahe, the president and CEO of Travel Dubuque, said he expects all hotels in Dubuque County to be filled on the date of the game. The demand for lodging likely will spill over to the other metro areas.
“I think you’ll see hotels filling up within a 90-mile radius, in places like Cedar Rapids and the Quad Cities,” he said.
Next year’s game, which will mark the first Major League Baseball game in Iowa, is part of a broader trend.
MLB Vice President of Communications Michael Teevan noted that the league held a game in Fort Bragg, N.C., in 2016 and one in Omaha, Neb., earlier this year. Those matchups marked the first games ever in North Carolina and Nebraska, respectively.
“It has been a priority of Commissioner Rob Manfred to allow fans to experience significant events in important locations and to create memories for fans who are outside of Major League markets,” Teevan wrote in an email to the Telegraph Herald.
It remains to be seen how many local fans will be able to secure a ticket, however.
“We are examining a system for a public offering of tickets and will announce details in the months ahead,” Teevan wrote.
GROWING THE GAME
Retired MLB player Eric Munson, who now runs an athletic training facility in Dubuque’s Kennedy Mall, is elated that a game is coming to Iowa.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for the community, for the Field of Dreams and for people who love baseball to take part in such a unique MLB experience so close to home,” Munson wrote in an email.
Dusty Rogers, the No. 6 overall selection in the 1984 MLB draft, also operates a baseball and softball academy in Dubuque. He thinks the upcoming MLB game could draw more interest in those sports.
“We want to keep the numbers of kids in baseball going up instead of going down,” he said. “Hopefully, this helps get kids back on baseball fields and gets more young people interested in the game.”