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Enjoy this year’s Field of Dreams game; it won’t return in 2023–or maybe ever

With investors planning on overhauling the iconic Dyersville, IA movie site, tonight’s Field of Dreams game may be the last one, as construction will prevent a match in 2023–and MLB is not committing to future games.

This year’s Field of Dreams event began Tuesday with some local festivities followed by a Quad Cities River Bandits/Cedar Rapids Kernels match. It culminates tonight with a Chicago Cubs/Cincinnati Reds matchup. The game was a huge success in 2021, both at the actual event and as a televised event in terms of ratings. (Repeating that success may be a challenge; we’ll be eager to see how the ratings shake out.)

Since then Travel Dubuque and a new nonprofit have arranged funding for a permanent 3,000-seat, $50-million ballpark at the Field of Dreams site, while an investment group led by former MLB slugger Frank Thomas announced an $80-million expansion for the iconic Iowa film location. The original 190-acre farm will be the base of the development, augmented by addition of almost 100 more acres to the west. The first phase of the project, which will installed largely on the new land, will include nine new diamonds, a youth player dorm and a new hotel. It’s currently scheduled to be completed by the end of 2023. The existing movie site will remain intact. Seating 3,000 but expanding to 8,000 seats for big events (like future MLB Field of Dreams games), the ballpark would cost more than $50 million and be used for college and international tourneys, high school games and events like baseball camps, music concerts, festivals and group/corporate meetings. We would also expect some talk fairly soon about summer-collegiate ball at the site; the location fits in the Northwoods League and Prospect League footprints.

With all that construction happening, MLB was informed that holding a 2023 Field of Dreams game would not be possible. A return is not certain, although an annual event seems baked into the numbers already, per the Des Moines Register:

“It’s a lot going on,” Thomas told the Des Moines Register on Wednesday in Dyersville. “They don’t want to come back if the stadium’s not prepared.”

Future MLB games at the site could be a key to its profitability. A feasibility study funded by Travel Dubuque projected the site would draw 136,000 visitors a year, create 81 jobs, host 62 events and generate $9.1 million in investment in the first year after the stadium is built.

However, the study projects that about two-thirds of the stadium’s economic impact would come from an annual MLB Field of Dreams game, and the league has not guaranteed a game beyond Thursday, when the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs will play.

Photo by Ballpark Digest; rendering courtesy RDG Planning & Design.

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