Plans for Field of Dreams development, land acquisition moving along

DYERSVILLE, Iowa — A week after major development projects at the iconic Field of Dreams movie site were announced, plans are moving along to acquire land and obtain needed permits.

Last week, officials with Go the Distance Baseball, which owns the Field of Dreams, unveiled an $80 million master plan of projects and improvements while also keeping the original movie site intact.

The plans call for the addition of nine ballfields, a 104-room boutique hotel, 100,000-square-foot fieldhouse, outdoor concert amphitheater, team dormitories, a recreational vehicle park, an all-abilities inclusive park and jogging trails through cornfields. The work will be done in two phases, with the aim of all of it being completed by 2025.

As part of the expansion plan, 100 acres will be added to the current 190-acre site. Of that additional land, 70 acres are on the north side of the Field of Dreams site, and 30 acres are located across Lansing Road to the south.

Dyersville City Administrator Mick Michel said a building permit was approved by the Dyersville City Council this week for the development on the new land on the north side of the Field of Dreams property.

“Go the Distance Baseball took out a building permit, and that was reviewed by city staff,” Michel said. “Because the development is over $1 million, the council also had a secondary review. They passed that (permit) out in consent (agenda).”

The building permit encompasses the new ballfields, fieldhouse, team dormitories and other assorted buildings. The work will cost $60 million, according to the permit.

Michel said the land related to the north side development was found to be in compliance with city zoning laws, so no further action needed to be taken.

Those 70 acres were obtained through a land swap agreement in place by Dyersville Industries Inc., which operates under Dyersville Economic Development Corp.

Executive Director Jacque Rahe said an agreement regarding the acreage was made 10 years ago with Denise Stillman, who previously owned and operated Go the Distance Baseball and once envisioned an expansion of the famed movie site.

Rahe said the land swap agreement outlined an exchange of land between Dyersville Industries Inc. and farmer Jerry Deutmeyer, who owned the 70 acres by the Field of Dreams.

The agreement stated that should a major development occur at the movie site, Rahe said, Deutmeyer would swap his 70 acres with Dyersville Industries in exchange for 35 acres owned by the organization. Those 35 acres, located along U.S. 20 across from the city’s industrial park, already were being rented to Deutmeyer and are close to his home, Rahe said.

Following the land swap, Rahe said Dyersville Industries Inc. then would have sold the land to Go the Distance Baseball.

However, that deal did not come to fruition when Stillman operated Go the Distance Baseball. She died in 2018 before any further Field of Dreams development got off the ground.

“That deal had legally gone away, but we’ve always rented the ground to Jerry,” Rahe said. “We were interested in this swap only if there was significant development out at the Field of Dreams.”

After new leadership took over Go the Distance Baseball, including Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Frank Thomas as CEO, Rahe said the land swap agreement commenced.

A signed agreement for the purchase of the 70 acres is now in place with Go the Distance Baseball.

“That was hard for us to give up land on Highway 20 as a development group,” Rahe said. “We wanted to make sure that something big was going to happen for the area. We wanted to make sure we could facilitate this project and facilitate it being done the right way, preserving the original entrance and movie site area.”

In addition, Michel said city economic development incentives for the north side development likely will be discussed in the next 30 to 45 days. While the $80 million project is being funded through private investments, he said city incentives such as a tax rebate will be considered.

“The city actually has a longstanding policy offering incentives to new commercial development,” Michel said. “… That’s not outside the box of any other commercial development we do in the City of Dyersville.”

The 30 acres south of the movie site and across Lansing Road will be the location of the boutique hotel. Michel said those acres still need to be rezoned for commercial use, but that cannot occur until the land is annexed into city limits.

The owners of that land, Daniel and Lori Reittinger, have submitted a voluntary annexation request in relation to the property. A public hearing to discuss the annexation will be held on May 2, according to city documents.

Michel said other public hearings will be held later in relation to the land’s rezoning.

Go the Distance Chief Operating Officer Dan Evans did not respond to requests for comment for this story. The Reittingers also did not respond.