Field Of Dreams In Dyersville’s Success During COVID
If you build it it will come.
A line that still gives so many people chills when they hear it. For many Iowans, there's an extra layer of fondness for this movie. The very field that so many of the characters' dreams came true on is actually located right here in Northeastern Iowa. Dyersville, a town in Iowa with just over 4,000 residents that call this part of the Hawkeye State home.
What draws thousands of people to this town every year is the Field of Dreams movie site.
"It's kind of been a place that's away from what I call the real world," said Craig Purcell, a tour guide for the site.
"When you turn down the gravel driveway towards the field, all of a sudden your cares can stay out back up on the highway. Back up where all of the real problems exist."
"It gave us time if anything to come up with a contingency plan, and to create innovative ways for us to continue to draw people to the site physically and virtually," said Roman Weinberg, the Director of Operations for Go the Distance Baseball.
One of the few positive things to come out of the pandemic is the rise of virtual experiences. In late 2020, the site officials offered diehard fans the chance to peak inside the famed house from the comfort of their own living rooms with a virtual tour.
This 10 minute tour is meant to offer viewers insight into why this location was picked for the movie, and some other exclusive insight. Also, you can see the field in real time with their 24/7 field cam.
Tour guide Craig Purcell admits that the uncertainty of the past year, and the differing regulations from state to state and even county to county, "...got a little cumbersome at times...we made the best of it and had a successful year!"
In 2019, the Field of Dreams actually broke a personal record. Weinberg explained that 2019 was there best year of all time. He owes that to the news of the MLB game that was meant to take place this past summer, and the movie's 30th anniversary.
The field saw a surge of 130,000 visitors, a record for the site. However, even with the pandemic that number remained steady when they headed into 2020. As the year wrapped up, the site actually accumulated about 100,000 visitors. COVID made a minimal impact on business there.
Due to the pandemic the site officials and staff had to take some extra precautions. While the staff sanitizes the indoor facilities, and adheres to the CDC guidelines, they do have some more freedom than some other tourist attractions. Since Field of Dreams is an outdoor venue, there is plenty of room and space to social distance.
The house tours had to be kept to a minimum though with smaller groups and mask mandates being put in place so they could follow proper protocol. Visitors also could not rent used baseball equipment.
While it seems like there were few issues that came out of left field for the beloved movie site; a few major events were put on pause, such as the famed Ghost Players.
Go The Distance Baseball actually just announced a partnership with the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation for their 2nd First Responders Appreciation Day event. It will take place on July 10th, and the famed Ghost Players will be presenting their comedy routine "The Greatest Show on Dirt."
“Being able to play and step foot on the same field that the iconic 1989 movie was filmed is a life experience that any true baseball fan dreams about,” said Vince Macias, Captain and Manager of the Chicago Police Finest Baseball Club.
The major event that everyone is buzzing about is that major baseball game. Both Weinberg and Purcell recall the day the news broke in August of 2019 of the Field of Dreams MLB game. For the entire staff, it was a moment that they won't soon forget.
"It was just so electric," Weinberg reminisces "It was like we were gearing up and taking the field ourselves."
This news brought a whole wave of national attention to the city and the venue, that had not been seen in decades.
"For the first time this put Dyersville, Iowa specifically on the map," said the Director of Operations.
Due to the pandemic, the game was put on hold, but not for too long. It will be a ballpark battle for the ages when the Chicago White Sox go up against the New York Yankees in the summer time. The game is now scheduled to take place on Thursday August 12, 2021 in the new 8,000 seat ballpark right next to the Field of Dreams, according to MLB officials.
Weinberg is hopeful for what this game could mean for all of us after dealing with this virus for a year.
"This is going be a great opportunity for the country as a whole to help rebound, and just turn on the T.V. for a couple of hours and just watch something that nobody thought was possible."
A pandemic could not stop them from building, and in 2021 there is even more to come.