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First Major League Baseball Game in Iowa Thursday Night At 'Field of Dreams' Movie Site

An Iowa flag waves over the field at the Field of Dreams movie site in Dyersville, Iowa, on June 5, 2020.
Charlie Neibergall
An Iowa flag waves over the field at the Field of Dreams movie site in Dyersville, in June of last year.

For the first time ever, an official Major League Baseball game will be played in Iowa. The New York Yankees will face the Chicago White Sox at a baseball park near the 1989 "Field of Dreams" movie site in Dyersville, Iowa.

The New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox will play tonight (Thursday) at a most unlikely location near the set of the movie “Field of Dreams” in Dyersville. It’s said to be the first major league game to ever be played in Iowa.

The famous line from the 1989 movie Field of Dreams is “if you build it, he will come.” But if you live in Iowa you’ve likely heard this other quote from the movie even more over the last 30-some years. Kevin Costner’s character is standing on the baseball field he built on his farm when the ghost of his father asks him a question.

“Is this heaven?"

"It’s Iowa," Costner's character replies.

Baseball fans will get to see the first regular season game Thursday night in Dyersville. The White Sox are the “home” team. Chris Marinak is chief operations and strategy officer for Major League Baseball. He says the game is part of MLB’s effort to bring the professional sport to different audiences. He says they looked at the original field as a possibility.

“It pretty quickly became obvious the original movie site field wasn't going to be a fit for something of the magnitude that we were looking to do. The good thing was that the the property is a huge property," he said. "We had a chance to just clear some corn and out of another location on the property that was proximate to the original movie site."

Construction of the new ballpark began after the game was announced in 2019. It was supposed to be played last year but was postponed because of the pandemic. This time around, Marinak says the players and staff are tested regularly. The new ballpark holds 8,000 people. That’s double the entire population of Dyersville. Zach Nothdorf manages a local brewery in town called Textile Brewing. He says there are just three hotels here and rooms are booked up even 75 miles away from town. He’s expecting to triple sales at his brewery. So, how many times has he seen the movie?

“Yeah, I’ve seen it more times than I’d like to admit. I watched it last night, actually," Nothdorf said with a chuckle.

Dubuque attorney Alyssa Carlson was one of the lucky fans to snag a pair of tickets in the lottery that was made available to Iowans last month.

“I thought there was no way that I would have a chance at winning. I had kind of resigned myself to the fact that like, I would have to be watching this game, you know, 20 miles away from me in my apartment on TV," Carlson said. "Then when I saw that email, I could not believe it.”

Appropriately, Carlson’s bringing her father to the game. She paid a whopping $375 a ticket for this joint event between the MLB and the MLB Players Association. J.D. Scholten is also going. Scholten is a former minor league pitcher who has played on the original field featured in the movie.

“I grew up in Sioux City. So, when you’re an Iowan and a baseball fan, Field of Dreams is your everything," Scholten said.

Scholten has run unsuccessfully for Congress in Iowa a couple of times. He even had Kevin Costner narrate one of his campaign ads based on the movie. But Scholten says the game is a bit of a mixed bag for him. It comes at a particularly bad time for baseball in Iowa.

“We have blackout games on six different markets, even though we don't have a major league team. We got two teams cut in the minor leagues, in Clinton and Burlington," Scholten said. "It's a little bittersweet.”

Many Iowa baseball fans can’t resist the opportunity to see a regular season major league baseball game in their home state. After all, they built it, but for all of those who can’t come, it will be broadcast on FOX.

Clay Masters is Iowa Public Radio’s Morning Edition host and lead political reporter.