Opinion | Pros and cons of the Field of Dreams commercialization

Dyersville residents see positives and negatives associated with the Field of Dreams developments.


The Daily Iowan

Fans and players observe the national anthem during the Minor League Field of Dreams Game between the Cedar Rapids Kernels, playing as the Bunnies, and the Quad Cities River Bandits, playing as the Blue Sox, in Dyersville, Iowa, on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. The Blue Sox defeated the Bunnies, 7-2.

Yasmina Sahir, Opinions Columnist

Growing up in Dyersville only a few miles from the Field of Dreams movie set, I fondly remember the feelings of safety and community that filled the town of less than 5,000 people.

The movie site has been a fixture in Dyersville — and arguably the Iowa community as a whole — since the movie starring Kevin Costner was filmed in the late 1980s.

For locals, free access to the baseball diamond carved out of the once Lansing family farm land meant community pick-up games of baseball and kickball on breezy summer weekends.

During my adolescence, local debate ensued about a proposal to build a baseball training facility or professional baseball stadium. Commercializing the field brought worries that this type of community bonding, including once a month Downtown Summer Nights would be lost.

A decade later, tensions have settled and the vision for the field has become a reality. Now, many Dyersville residents and business owners are excited for what the future holds. Becca Miller, owner of Brew and Brew, sees the changes as ultimately a positive for the community.

“All summer, tourists have been coming to town to go to the field.” Mille said. “It’s really cool to see people excited to be in Dyersville. People come for the field, but then they see what else we have to offer.”

However, not all locals felt prepared or included in the big events this summer at the Field.

Advertising rights at the field were limited to financial supporters of the development projects. Parking lots in the already small town were in too high demand during the game and following activities, making it harder for business owners to reserve spaces for customers and employees.

Likewise, food trucks from out-of-town businesses were allocated space near the Field and day events during the minor league game. This redirected what could have been community profit into businesses and organizations that were, in part, already profiting off ticket sales and other sources of revenue Dyersville restaurants and other retail spaces did not have access to.

Many current Dyersville residents did not feel like they could openly comment without possible consequences to their businesses and personal lives. City of Dyersville representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

But negative feedback does not mean the event was entirely unappreciated by locals.

As a possible 2023 or 2024 MLB Field of Dreams game will be in the works after completion of another round of construction, the City of Dyersville should consider adding parking or shuttles from parking areas not located downtown to the field as well as equal advertising and profit opportunities for all Dyersville businesses.

Reflecting back on arguments against the Field of Dreams as we know it today in 2022, hindsight shows that real concerns were over losing the spark and the love that makes Dyersville unique.

It’s heartwarming to see the passion Dyersville residents have for their community is only intensified by the visitors who wish to take part in the legacy that many have helped preserve.

The famous quote all Iowans know, “Is this heaven? No, it’s Iowa.”, has been repeated too many times to not get some eyerolls. Maybe we’ve had it wrong all along. In some respects, Iowa and heaven are descriptors that go hand in hand. To many, the Field of Dreams is one of these reasons.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.