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“If you build it, they will come.” This is one of the most famous quotes from the movie “Field Of Dreams,” and it couldn’t be more accurate. The field of dreams park in Dyersville Iowa has been a popular tourist destination for decades now. I recently had the opportunity to visit this field myself and get an inside look at what makes this field so iconic.
As I looked out the window of the farmhouse we were getting a guided tour through, I saw heartwarming scenes like a couple shooting video of their dog running the bases with their owner. There was a dad squatting at the home plate like an umpire as he coached his young son to run around the bases getting in his home runs as he caught it all on the cell phone.
There were young lovers holding hands as they walked out of the cornfield into the outfield – you could just imagine the wedding proposal hanging in the air. What high school players were there to dream of being in the world series? What about that kid who is dreaming of being the President and throwing out that first pitch in the world series?
It is the perfect choice for many family outings when you are in the Dubuque Iowa area.
It isn’t a true story
What I didn’t realize is that a lot of people thought that the Field of Dreams park location was featured by Hollywood because it was a true story. That a real farmer built that site and his dad was the inspiration for it. That Hollywood came calling because they wanted to tell that story, as they did with Father Flannigan in Boys Town.
OK, I love Kevin Costner and he was the only reason I saw the movie The Field of Dreams when it came out in 1989. It is one of my favorite movies of his, so sue me. And that is why when I had an opportunity to visit the Field of Dreams Movie Site in Dyersville Iowa, I took it!
If you aren’t familiar with the movie, “The Field of Dreams” is a baseball movie in which an old man named Shoeless Joe Jackson, who died in 1939, returns to his childhood home and dreams of playing baseball there again. The movie was filmed in Dyersville, Iowa by director Phil Alden Robinson. If you didn’t know, Dyersville is located just outside of Dubuque Iowa.
Who was Shoeless Joe Jackson?
Shoeless Joe Jackson was a professional baseball player who played for the Philadelphia Athletics and the Cleveland Indians from 1908 to 1920. In 1919, he was accused of taking part in the Black Sox Scandal, which led to his banishment from baseball. He died in 1939.
Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked.
This movie had an all-star cast: Kevin Costner as the Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella, Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta, Burt Lancaster…I could go on and on.
The Field of Dreams Park is a Movie Set
So – the Field of Dreams? It is a movie set. It is the actual site where they filmed this beloved film that would take the Academy Awards by storm. They had a specific look in mind and had scouts combing rural midwest towns to find the perfect farm setting.
They found just the ticket when they landed on the doorstep of Don Lansing. Between his farm, and the cornfield of the neighbor which was owned by Al Ameskamp, they had the location to shoot their movie.
This original movie site was customized to fit the story – Universal Pictures got busy on the Lansing family farm as it built the baseball diamond, added windows to the house, fixed the floors, and even extended the wrap-around porch for Mr. Lansing. The field was constructed over the July 4 weekend under the direction of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ groundskeeper.
The corn almost ruined it
Now, for the corn. It was an important part of the visual – after all, it had to be tall enough for the players to come out of “magically” and onto the baseball diamond.
They almost had a problem with the horrible drought that year, and thanks to the townspeople, even the local fire station water tanker truck came to help get the desired corn field height for filming.
Don Lansing was a Visionary
Once the film was released to such a success, he knew it wouldn’t be long before baseball fams from all across America, and eventually the globe, would be paying a visit to this place as a tourist attraction and sort of Mecca. He kept the field and added a small hut with inexpensive souvenirs for sale. As of 2018, visitors were free to come to the field and play baseball as they please between April and November.
Baseball fans certainly did turn up for a visit.
Don and his wife would soon sell to Denise Stillman and her estate would end up turning it over to the new owners – but all were careful to keep it true to the nature that Don started with.
Sure, there have been some changes, like all the games played there.
The major leagues even came calling…a regular-season Major League Baseball game played on August 12, 2021, between the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox. The MLB game was even covered by fox sports and they already have another game planned for next year. The Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds will square off in the second edition of MLB fun and local Iowa residents will all pull in to help man every possible service and volunteer position to make the event a success, as they did the first time.
The baseball field constructed for the movie, which has been operated as a tourist destination since 1989, could not be brought to MLB game standards without permanently altering major features of the property and destroying its movie authenticity, so it was decided to build a separate playing facility at a distance of approximately 500 ft (150 m) in the cornfields.
The new field is in the property of the Ameskamp family, who used to own the left and center field of the 1988 Field of Dreams (the rest was owned by the Lansing family) before selling it to the Lansing family in 2007.
When I was there, they had just taken down the stands and had removed most of the excess items needed for the special event.
The field has been used for weddings, proms, and even birthday parties.
Don’t let that turn you away from visiting this magnificent field – I promise it is still worth the time to explore!
Sit in the wooden bleachers that you saw in the movie. Walk out of the cornfield and onto the outfield. Pay a little extra and tour the farmhouse. Make sure you check out the gift shop and grab a souvenir instead of stealing corn to take home. (yes, they figure they lose 10 acres of harvest each year from theft!)
I can’t begin to tell you what it felt like to walk out of the cornfield into the center field.
You are welcome to walk around the field and hang out for as long as you like year-round, rain or shine!
Why not stop by for a visit? admission is free, and every donation helps! You don’t even need to donate anything – just show up with your camera or phone on hand so you can share some memories from the field.
Step into the past at this historic farmhouse. You’ll get a taste of what life was like on an Iowa farm as your 30-minute tour takes you from room to room and you learn about how its history has been changed over the years as it has gone from owner to owner.
While everything in the house isn’t original to the set, a lot of the items are similar to the film era and help complete the experience. It is said that about 80% of the items currently in the house are authentic.
Check Out the Tour
The Field of Dreams Park is open to the public and you can visit it year-round. The cost for admission is $20 per adult, $18 per senior citizen (65+), and $12 for children – with infants being free. Active Military and their spouse are discounted to $15 with a valid ID.
The Field of Dreams Park in Dyersville is located at 28995 Lansing Road, It really doesn’t look like much until you park your car, get out, and stand there for a while. It is simplicity at its best with a gravel and grass lot to park your vehicle on, and simple paths to walk around.
If you build it, they will come. And that is exactly what happened when the field of dreams park in Dyersville Iowa was built for that Best Picture Award-winning venture. Don’t take my word for it – visit it yourself!