by Teri Link
“If you build it, he will come” might be one of the most recognized and possibly overused movie quotes in Iowa. However, in the case of Dyersville, which was the site of the original Field of Dreams movie location, it’s also a very accurate quote. Boasting a population of about 4,500, Dyersville has seen steady growth over the past 30 years. Although the filming of the instant classic Field of Dreams certainly helped to boost the popularity and possibilities for the town, it was the residents and leadership who ultimately seized upon the opportunities presented to them and created the perfect atmosphere for growth and success for their rural hometown.
Of course, growth in communities doesn’t happen overnight. Although the Field of Dreams movie site has been open to the public since the film came out in 1989, it was only in 2011 that the site’s owner set forth a bold vision of investing in the popular attraction to create a truly special place for baseball fans, tournament players, and families. In conjunction with other improvements, they began working with Major League Baseball in 2015 to bring an MLB game to the baseball diamond in the cornfield. The result of many years of hard work and dedication was the first MLB game ever played in Iowa in 2021 between the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox. A second game was played in 2022 between the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago Cubs. With millions upon millions of television viewers, the organizers couldn’t have ordered a better outcome.
Dyersville was prepared. Knowing that this project was in the works back in 2015, the Chamber of Commerce and the Dyersville Economic Development Corporation, among other entities, had started planning for improvements. Expanding on the obvious need for more hotels and restaurants, an extensive Downtown Improvement Plan was drafted with the goal of making Dyersville not only a destination for baseball fans, but an attractive place to live for current and prospective residents. Attention was paid to restoring the riverfront, developing downtown spaces that could be used for both working and living, expanding industries to create more jobs, making sure that infrastructure such as streets and sidewalks were up to par, and providing plenty of public spaces for entertainment while retaining the character gracing the historic buildings already in place.
To read this and other featured articles in their entirety, pickup the January 2023 issue of Julien’s Journal magazine. Click to subscribe for convenient delivery by mail, or call (563) 557-1914. Single issues are also available in print at area newsstands and digitally via the Issuu platform.