All-Star Ballpark Heaven plans for another construction setback
Written by Becca Habegger, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
The Dubuque Sports Complex will host All-Star Ballpark Heaven's weekend tournaments this summer
DYERSVILLE (KWWL) -
The All-Star Ballpark Heaven youth baseball and softball tournament facility planned around the Field of Dreams movie site in Dyersville may be seeing another setback.
In the face of a funding shortfall plus ongoing litigation with the site's neighbors, who are opposed to the facility's construction in their rural area, developers are coming up with Plan B for the summer of 2014.
Full plans for All-Star Ballpark Heaven have 24 fields, including one for a professional minor league team. To meet the 2014 deadline of the Field of Dreams film's 25th anniversary, developer Denise Stillman scaled back the first phase of the project to 12 fields. Later this summer, that plan dropped to six.
Now, Stillman said, litigation and a lack of full funds has made developers unsure of whether they can promise teams a place to play in Dyersville this upcoming season.
That's when they turned to Dan Kennedy. He owns the Dubuque Sports Complex, a five-field tournament facility.
The teams originally set to compete in week-long tournaments this summer at All-Star Ballpark Heaven will instead be playing in weekend tournaments in Dubuque. Stillman said the tournaments will still include activities at the Field of Dreams.
"They're not quite ready for their games out there, their fields," Kennedy said, "so they're moving everything here for right now, temporarily, and we're kind of filling a void for them."
The deal is a welcome boost for the Dubuque Sports Complex after flooding in 2011 practically wiped it away.
"You know, it's kind of like our whole life was being just washed away," Kennedy said, in front of a laptop playing home video of the flooded facility. "It's not easy to watch it, but you look at what we have now and be thankful that nobody got hurt."
After investing some $750,000 to rebuild and plenty of volunteer hours, the complex is open and working its way toward pre-flood business levels.
"We're still behind on a few bills and stuff," Kennedy said.
For him, however, it's not about the money.
"My dad passed away when I was five years old, so I never got to have a catch with my dad, so to say," Kennedy said, tearing up as he referenced the film Field of Dreams. "When that end of that movie came out and he wanted to have a catch with his dad, you know, it kind of struck home with me."
Just as that film did, Kennedy is working to help spread a passion for America's favorite pastime.
Stillman said no matter what happens with the All-Star Ballpark Heaven facility, developers are committed to keeping the Field of Dreams movie site free and open for the public. She said the funding sources for the two are separate.
If the Northern League professional team won't have a field in time for the 2014 season, Stillman said, that doesn't mean they won't call Dyersville home the next summer. It depends on the construction schedule as well as the Northern League commissioner's ability to fund and form a team for eastern Iowa.
Additionally, Stillman said she hasn't ruled out having fields ready for tournament play in 2014, adding it all depends on funding and litigation. In contracting with the Dubuque Sports Complex, she said, she just wanted to guarantee those teams that had already signed up would have a guaranteed spot to play.
Neighbors opposed to the facility's construction in Dyersville say they're fighting to keep the land surrounding the Field of Dreams pristine. Neighbor Sharon Ameskamp said they're not against the facility-- they just don't want it built in their rural area.
She and other neighbors joined together to form the RAAC, or Residential and Agricultural Advisory Committee, which is the group involved in litigation with Stillman's development company Go the Distance Baseball, LLC.
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