…They will come. And 25 years later, they will still come.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of one of the most beloved baseball movies of all time, “Field of Dreams.” To celebrate the classic film, thousands of fans descended on Dyersville, Iowa, on Father’s Day weekend to tour the iconic cornfield-turned-ball field, which is still maintained as a baseball diamond and considered a mecca for sports-loving cinephiles. Several actors from the movie attended the event, including the film’s star, Kevin Costner, who took to the field with his three young children for a game of catch. In a Q&A held at the event, Costner said, “I don’t think there’s any bigger miracle for me that occurred than this movie that was made 25 years ago here in this field.”
Despite its priceless sentimental value, and enormous popularity (the site sees around 60,000 visitors a year) the field is facing an uncertain future. For more than 20 years, Don and Becky Lansing, owners of the property, maintained the grounds themselves to provide visitors an opportunity to enjoy the field at no cost. In 2012, they sold the 193-acre property to a Chicago-area developer who plans to spend $74 million creating a baseball and softball complex called All-Star Ballpark Heaven. The facility would include 24 baseball diamonds surrounding the original Field of Dreams.
Hundreds of fans enjoy a screening of “Field of Dreams” at the film’s 25th anniversary party.
Photos by Will Byington.
The proposed complex has sparked feuds between neighbors and lawsuits against the city. Some residents support the project and the economic potential it could offer the small town. Others have concerns about traffic, light pollution and the potential for runoff to affect neighboring farmland. The ongoing issue came to a climax in last fall’s election when project proponents were all defeated: the three city council members up for reelection as well as the mayor, who had served since 2003, were thrown out of office.
Despite the controversy, the present owners are moving ahead and expect to have at least six fields open for play in 2015. They have already made a number of improvements to the existing field, including upgrading the playing surface. Most importantly, the developer intends to preserve the original field, and the surrounding corn, as it was in the movie, and says income generated through the project would help keep the site free to the public.
Kevin Costner takes a swing to celebrate the anniversary.
Fans of the movie, myself included, would hope to see the field maintained just as it was on screen, inspiring those making the pilgrimage to the small town to ask “Is this heaven?” No, it’s Iowa.
*On a side note, a little movie trivia: The memorable line from the film was actually “If you build it, he will come,” but is often misquoted as “they will come.”