The Price of a Field of Dreams
By Katie Wiedmann, Reporter
DYERSVILLE, Iowa — Tens of millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs have the potential to land in the Dyersville area. It all centers around plans for a new baseball and softball complex at the Field of Dreams site. It’s a project to build 24 fields at the famous movie site.
A study by an independent Des Moines group says that would bring in $40 million over its first eight years. Starting in 2017, the study projects earnings to be $4.2 million annually. And along with all that money comes 1,000 jobs. Dubuque County tourism officials say the number of visitors to the field and movie site has significantly dropped in the past ten years. And local businesses owners who rely on those tourists say they are really feeling the impact.
It’s a steady lunch hour at The County Junction Restaurant in Dyersville. The crowd is made up of mostly regular, local customers. A far cry from the swarms of tourists who filled the restaurant in the 1990′s. Tom King owns the Country Junction owner and hopes to see the project completed. “Those were the hay days for us back in the 90′s when the Field of Dreams was really rolling. We saw a lot of highway traffic,” said King. He hopes changes at the movie site could be the perfect way to get visitors back to town. “At some point they need a little shot in the arm and they need something to inject a little more interest.”
The Field of Dreams’ new owner, Mike and Denise Stillman, plan to build a 24 field baseball and softball complex in the middle of the current cornfields. “The kids will actually have to walk through rows of corn like the Ghost Players did to get to the nirvana, the heaven of Little League Baseball fields,” said Denise. She says the complex will attract regional and national Little League tournaments.
The study predicts 1,500 families will travel to the area each week in the summer.
In addition to the predicted 1,500 families that will travel to the area each summer, the study projects the development will bring 1,200 new jobs. Many of those jobs will be at the field itself. The job growth is expected to trickle down to local businesses, like the Country Junction. “Anything that brings jobs to town is not a bad thing, especially for a service oriented business like ours,” said King.
Denise Stillman says the new project won’t ruin the movie site’s integrity. She says the house, barn, and the original field will remain the same. And it will still be free for families to stop by for a game of catch.
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