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STMA, MLB construct baseball field at ‘Field of Dreams’ site

September 18, 2019  - By
Photo: Ballpark Digest, MLB

Photo: Ballpark Digest, MLB

“If you build it, they will come.”

With the immortal words of Ray Kinsella ringing in their ears, the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) and Major League Baseball (MLB) are getting to work building an actual Field of Dreams on the very site where the 1989 movie was filmed. The Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees are scheduled to face off on the field on Aug. 13, 2020.

“We started looking at sites and picking places where there’s not a typical place for fans to see a major league game,” says Murray Cook, field and stadium consultant for MLB and a member of STMA. “This will be the first game played in the state of Iowa. It’s a unique vision to take our fields out to unique places.”

The site for the field was determined: it was decided that MLB would build a field in Iowa. After looking at the actual movie site field, MLB realized that it was too small and would’ve needed to be rebuilt.

“We didn’t want to remove the historical feature of that, so we decided to move forward with developing a field just west of the (movie’s) field,” Cook says.

This is not the first time MLB has built a baseball field in a less than typical place. The first MLB game played in London was at the Olympic stadium, and a few years ago a field was created at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. According to Cook, these other events have helped the organization create concepts to develop everything for a major league ballpark.

The MLB is working to give the stadium and field an older feel, which includes putting clay in the coaches’ boxes.

So far, crews haven’t hit any snags in the construction of the field, which has included clearing the site of corn (it’s Iowa, after all), putting in erosion control, fencing and heavy grading.

Murray Cook

Murray Cook

Currently, the site is slated to seat 8,000 guests. According to Cook, there has been some discussion as to whether more seats can be added. The footprint of the stadium will be 17 acres, a portion of that being the field and the rest being locker rooms, the seating bowl, restrooms and the media areas.

According to Cook, a team from BrightView is doing the construction, while a second contractor is coordinating all of the infrastructure and how guests will access the site. An architect is responsible for the design and coordinating the efforts to ensure everything meets MLB requirements.

MLB is working closely with the Iowa STMA chapter to put together a tarp crew. According to Cook, 65-70 percent of the material for the installation will come from Iowa.

The field will be turfed with a four-way blend of Kentucky Bluegrass. MLB is looking at a couple of different varieties that are farmed nearby the site, Cook says.

The site is currently owned by a woman named Denise Stillman and her husband, who bought the land and operate it as a tourist destination.

“People come out and see the house and play catch in the field. It’s a neat little field and there is a lot of discussion about how we integrate that,” Cook says. “(Guests) will be bussed into the site and then they will walk through the ‘Field of Dreams’ area, through the corn field, behind the batter’s eye and through the entrance.”

A big feature of the site is the corn, which is something MLB is trying to emphasize while building of the stadium. According to Cook, the corn will be right up against the outfield fence. “The concept is that everyone will be able to see the corn and the movie site and the house on the hill from where they’re sitting,” he says. “I can’t say I’ve planted a lot of bluegrass next to corn.”

But if you plant it, they will come.

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