Field of Dreams to be home to independent professional baseball - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Field of Dreams will be home to independent professional baseball team

Denise Stillman released this new Phase I plan Friday morning Denise Stillman released this new Phase I plan Friday morning

Professional baseball is coming to eastern Iowa.

All-Star Ballpark Heaven is the youth baseball and softball tournament complex cropping up around the Field of Dreams in the Dyersville area.

Friday morning, Denise Stillman announced All-Star Ballpark Heaven will soon be home to a baseball team with the Northern League, a newly-revived, independent professional minor league. For more information on that, click the link on the left.

Stillman is a managing partner of Go the Distance Baseball, which is the investor group that owns the Field of Dreams and is financing the new tournament facility.

"This is a tremendous addition to our new development," she said in a media release.

At the Field of Dreams movie site Friday afternoon, a traveling Wisconsin baseball team called the Wisconsin Rampage Select stopped to both lightly practice and play, en route to a tournament in Des Moines.

Coach Jeremy Krebs said visiting a tournament facility with its very own minor league team would be great for his players.

"They could see the different ways they try out, the way they work out. It'd be nice for them," Krebs said. "Other teams could see these young kids play, maybe help them out."

Starting next season, that could be a reality. The new minor league team, as of yet unnamed, could take the field as early as 2014.

Jacque Rahe is executive director of Dyersville's economic development corporation.

"It is, I think, going to be a very exciting time for the project itself and our community," Rahe said Friday in her office. "[Local] communities have tried for a long time to bring professional baseball to the area, and I think landing here at the Field of Dreams is a perfect spot."

She and Stillman said developers plan to draw the support and fan base needed to sustain a professional team from the traveling players and their families, as well as the wider northeast Iowa community.

Dan Evans is commissioner of the Northern League and the one who approached Stillman about putting a team at All-Star Ballpark Heaven.

"We are truly excited about adding a franchise that will play at the new development near the iconic Field of Dreams Movie Site," Evans said in the release. "The combination of the area's passion for baseball, a unique setting, and All-Star Ballpark Heaven's strong commitment to youth baseball and softball is ideal, and such an incredible opportunity."

Final plans for All-Star Ballpark Heaven include 24 fields, one of which will now be equipped for the Northern League team. Up until this week, developers had planned on having 12 of the fields built and operational by the 2014 season, in time for the Field of Dreams film's 25th anniversary. However, developers are now scaling back that $20 million "Phase 1" plan to six fields by 2014, which includes the more-developed Northern League Field.

Go the Distance Baseball has not yet begun constructing the fields. Stillman said the developers are working to raise all the necessary funds.

Plans call for the original field from the film to remain intact and free and open to the public, as it has been. That includes keeping the outfield meeting the cornfield.

Iowa governor Terry Branstad and lieutenant governor Kim Reynolds also chimed in on the announcement.

"Field of Dreams is an international Iowa icon," Branstad said in the release. "This is an exciting opportunity as the Field of Dreams site becomes a growing regional attraction."

"As the governor and I work toward our goal to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation," Reynolds said, "All-Star Ballpark Heaven provides a great recreational opportunity for Iowa families."

All-Star Ballpark Heaven aims to be a nationally-recognized, top-notch venue for youth baseball and softball tournaments in the Midwest.

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