In preparation for the Major League Baseball (MLB) game between the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox to be played on August 13, 2020, BrightView and the MLB have come up with an idea that combines movie nostalgia, America’s pastime and cornfields.
Murray Cook, president of BrightView Sports Turf and Development, the official turf consultants of the MLB, says he’s excited to announce that next year, the Dyersville farm in Iowa will host its first-ever Major League game in true Field of Dreams fashion.
“This serves the bigger purpose of taking the game to places where folks aren’t able to see a Major League game; that’s really the base of the reasoning behind doing these projects,” says Cook. “We want to get more people involved and grow the love of the game in unique places around the world.”
Along with the Sports Turf Management Association (STMA), BrightView and the MLB will create a temporary 8,000-seat ballpark about 100 yards west of the site where the original Field of Dreams was filmed.
The idea for this project, Cook says, began a few years back when BrightView had the chance to create a similar project on a cricket field in Sydney, Australia. If it could be done on a cricket field, why not recreate this magic in a cornfield in Iowa?
In 2016, Cook says the team also built a temporary baseball field on the Army base in Fort Bragg, and he believes this Iowa-based project should prove similar in execution.
Cook says they broke ground on the project about three weeks ago after clearing the site of 17 acres of corn, and unlike past projects that had a limited timeframe for completion, Cook’s crew will have a year to complete this one. A sand-based natural grass system will make up the field, and Cook says the irrigation will also be installed to maintain the bluegrass sodded field.
Currently, Cook says they are about 60 percent finished with site work, and this fall, they will begin site grading and the installation of the playing field’s sub-base structures, such as drainage, gravel, root zone material and infield clay.
Next spring, Cook says they will come back in and put down the turf and sod and begin the detail work to get the field in playable condition.
“When fans arrive at the ballpark, they’ll walk through the Field of Dreams site, through the path that goes through the cornfields and come out to the seats that will overlook the baseball field,” says Cook.
Cook says that each BrightView employee working on the project is a member of the STMA, and nearly a dozen STMA members will be responsible for installing and performing all site work. He says his team will also construct the ballfield, bullpens, fencing and foul poles, oversee the installations of the backstop net and various player related areas and ensure the field meets MLB standards on the night of the game.
Cook says that the team has already received offers of help from the Iowa STMA, and about 70-80 percent of both the workforce and materials are coming directly from Iowa.
“It’s really doing something that the people are going to enjoy,” says Cook. “The whole thing starts there with the fans who want to see this game. Baseball has that thread that kind of bonds a lot of people that love the game and maybe played when they were kids.”
Along with this, Cook adds that hotels in the area and surrounding areas are already booked up, which will result in a fairly substantial and positive economic impact for the state. Cook also mentions that he has had more ticket inquiry calls regarding this game than any he’s worked on in the past.
“Everybody wants to go to this game,” says Cook. “I think it’s because we’ve got the White Sox playing the Yankees, but I think it really touched a real close feeling in the people when they heard it would be on the Field of Dreams movie site. The movie component itself doubled down on making it more exciting to be a part of and to be there at the site.”
Once the game has wrapped up, Cook says his team will take the seating bowl structure away, leaving a baseball field behind that the community can then take advantage of.
“Playing it here at this site is probably, personally, the most exciting part,” says Cook. “We’re just setting the canvas. Then the real talent – the players – take over and put on the show.”