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Field of Dreams stadium project secures further state funding

The state government in Iowa has provided $12.5m (£10.2m/€12.1m) in funding towards a project to build a permanent Field of Dreams baseball stadium in the city of Dyersville.

Last year, Major League Baseball staged its inaugural Field of Dreams event at a temporary 8,000-seat ballpark (pictured) in the city. The event will return for its second edition later today (Thursday).

The Field of Dreams game is inspired by the classic film of the same name and takes place at the Iowa farm where the movie was shot.

In the 1989 film, the lead character, played by Kevin Costner, responds to a mysterious voice in the cornfields that says ‘if you build it, he will come’, and creates a baseball field at his farm. Ghosts of baseball legends from the past later emerge from the corn to play.

In May, plans were drawn up to create a permanent Field of Dreams stadium in Dyersville. A non-profit organisation was launched with the aim of raising $50m to build the venue around the Dyersville site.

The project, dubbed This is Iowa, has this week been awarded $12.5m, with the state government saying the funds will go towards creating a permanent multi-use stadium “capable of hosting professional baseball games, collegiate baseball tournaments, and other year-round events”.

The funding represents 25% of the total project investment of $50m and will be utilised for stadium infrastructure. The government said the stadium will form part of a larger, phased project with an initial private investment of $80m which will include nine ball fields, a hotel and event space, and an outdoor concert amphitheatre.

The stadium project has now raised $45m, with local funds and a federal agency also contributing to the effort. The permanent stadium would have a capacity of 3,000.

Since the film was released, the Lansing Family Farm, which was used in the movie, has been a popular tourist attraction. In 2011, the field was purchased by Denise Stillman and a group of investors with the goal of preserving the Field of Dreams and creating a special place for baseball fans, tournament players and families.

Stillman began working with MLB in 2015 but passed away in 2018. The inaugural Field of Dreams game had been due to take place in 2020 but fell victim to the COVID-19 pandemic before debuting in August 2021.

Site owner Go the Distance recently announced plans to expand the area by building youth baseball and softball facilities, team dormitories and a hotel. Following the inaugural event, This is Heaven, a group headed by baseball Hall of Famer Frank Thomas, acquired a controlling interest in Go the Distance’s ownership of All-Star Ballpark Heaven and the Field of Dreams Movie Site.

Thomas has now said that Major League Baseball will not return for another regular-season game at the site in 2023. It remains a possibility that the game will return in the future.

Image: MLB Photos