DYERSVILLE, Iowa — When Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella built a baseball field over his corn crop, he followed a vision to create something special out of a national pastime. Of course, that took place in the 1989 film "Field of Dreams" — but that same vision of building baseball in Dyersville has quickly grown in reality.
Go the Distance Baseball LLC unveiled $80 million plans on Thursday to turn the Field of Dreams Movie Site into a youth baseball and softball destination for players, families and fans from around the world.
The announcement comes six months after the group purchased a controlling interest in the Field of Dreams site.
The master plans will expand the site and build nine new ballfields, dormitories for teams and a boutique hotel — all expected to be completed in phases by the end of 2023. The group said this marks the largest private investment in Dyersville and one of the biggest in Dubuque County.
"The project will greatly enhance the facilities and amenities for visitors and area residents while creating jobs and boosting economic development and tourism in Eastern Iowa," said the ownership group in a statement.
Go the Distance said the property will still be used as a working farm to keep the natural beauty of the rural Iowa landscape. It's a development that comes after last summer's "MLB Field of Dreams" regular season special between the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox at the iconic movie site.
Fittingly, the action in the game was scripted like something in a movie. Kevin Costner, who played Ray Kinsella in the film, led the players out of the cornfield prior to the first pitch.
Both teams combined for eight home runs capped off by All-Star shortstop Tim Anderson hitting a walk-off homer for a 9-8 White Sox win.
That game was followed by a 200% increase in youth baseball and softball teams that registered for tournaments in Dyserville this summer, according to Go the Distance.
Major League Baseball scheduled another regular-season game at the Field of Dreams site between the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds on August 11.
"I am grateful for all that the game of baseball gave me throughout my career," said Hall of Famer and Go the Distance CEO Frank Thomas. "And now I am proud and excited to lead a team that is building opportunities for players, fans and families to enjoy our national pastime and for teams to train and compete."
Additional phases through 2025 include a 100,000-square-foot fieldhouse, an outdoor concert amphitheater, an RV park, a large park inclusive for children and adults with disabilities and jogging trails through the cornfields.
Hundreds of construction jobs, approximately 170 new full-time jobs and events hosted at the site will result in more than $25 million in direct annual spending, according to Go the Distance.
The combination of the new youth complexes and MLB regular-season games is turning Dyersville into a premier baseball destination in the country.
Just as James Earl Jones' character, Terence Mann, predicted in the film, "people will come."