The vision for the Iowa “Field of Dreams” movie site has just gained momentum.
A new nonprofit is raising money to build a permanent $50 million stadium around the Dyersville baseball field that Major League Baseball built for the first professional game held there last year.
Travel Dubuque unveiled plans for the stadium Monday to the Dubuque County Board of Supervisors, which voted to allocate $5 million of the county’s American Rescue Plan Act funding to the project. The Dyersville City Council also approved $1 million in aid last week.
The 3,000-seater stadium comes on top of a venue-owned and operated Go the Distance plan announced last month. It plans to spend $80 million in private funding to build youth baseball and softball fields, team dormitories and a hotel, among other improvements, surrounding the film site.
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“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be able to create something like this,” said Keith Rahe, President and CEO of Travel Dubuque. “What we could create there is a legacy for everyone. It’s generational change. And it’s something all of Iowa could be proud of.”
Travel Dubuque joins the City of Dyersville, Dyersville Economic Development Corp., Dubuque County and Go the Distance Baseball to form a nonprofit organization called This is Iowa Ballpark, Inc. It will be tasked with raising $50 million in funds public and private, including donations and subsidies, for the project.
The group plans to apply for a grant through Destination Iowa, a $100 million program announced by Governor Kim Reynolds last month. The program will channel a portion of Iowa’s federal COVID-19 relief money to develop projects that “raise the positive profile of our state far beyond our borders,” Reynolds said in a statement last month. .
Nominations opened Monday, but Rahe said the amount This is Iowa Ballpark is requesting is yet to be determined. Last year, the city of Dyersville sought but failed to secure a $100 million share of state reinvestment district funding for the site, but that was before MLB n is hosting last summer’s acclaimed White Sox-Yankees game, and Hall of Famer and former White Sox star Frank Thomas headed an investment group that acquired Go the Distance in September.
The new stadium would be a permanent addition to the 190-acre area where much of the 1989 film, starring Kevin Costner, was filmed. In addition to the stands, there will be a concessions area, restrooms, suites, team pavilions and meeting rooms.
MLB set up temporary stands there for the White Sox-Yankees Field of Dreams game in August, and will do so again this year when the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds play. After the permanent stadium is completed in about three years, it would be supplemented with 5,000 temporary seats for all future MLB games.
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Rahe, however, said he expects the permanent, multi-purpose stadium to be a year-round draw. He said he has been contacted by college, high school and international teams interested in playing there. He also plans to use it for corporate events, festivals and camps.
Off-season, groups could hold meetings here with a bird’s-eye view of the original “Field of Dreams” farm, cornfield and baseball diamond, which will remain unchanged.
“It’s key for us, that different things in the stadium would make it a year-round destination,” Rahe said. “We really feel like the interest is unreal. With Major League Baseball playing a game on the field, people want to go there and see it. And we think the stadium itself will become a destination.”
Rahe said the stadium was not built for MLB, which invested in the field, fencing and lighting.
“We build that for all the other activities we can do there,” he said.
The Dubuque County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the $5 million grant on Monday. The investment is its largest allocation yet of its nearly $19 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds, said Ed Raber, project coordinator for the county.
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Supervisors did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the Des Moines Register.
Supervisor Ann McDonough said she thought it was important for the county to follow Reynolds’ lead and use federal funds for tourism, the Dubuque Telegraph Herald reported.
“It’s for all future generations,” she reportedly said. “When we’re looking for something to point to say, ‘What did we do with the Biden bailout funds? we can say that we brought the Field of Dreams stadium here.”