'Every little detail, they got it': MLB's Field of Dreams ballpark ties together White Sox, Iowa history
DYERSVILLE, Ia. — Moments after walking onto the infield dirt along the first base line at Major League Baseball’s specially constructed ballpark in Dyersville on Monday, former Chicago White Sox player and manager Ozzie Guillen looked around and examined the site.
Guillen, now an analyst for NBC Sports Chicago, was impressed with how MLB had successfully put together the park, which is located near the diamond from the famous movie "Field of Dreams."
"Every little detail, they got it," Guillen said.
The park’s biggest test comes Thursday night for a nationally televised regular season game between the White Sox and New York Yankees at 6 p.m. It’ll be the first glimpse many fans get of the temporary park, which seats 8,000 fans and will host MLB’s first regular season game in Iowa.
"It’s incredible," said "Field of Dreams" actor Dwier Brown.
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Thursday’s game has been a long time in the making for the "Field of Dreams" site, which began construction on the MLB park shortly after the game's announcement in August 2019. MLB partnered with Populous, BaAM Productions and BrightView to design and construct the temporary ballpark made specifically for the game. The idea was to pay homage to Iowa and the White Sox organization, an important part of the movie and one of the teams playing in the game.
They decided one of the ways to honor the White Sox was to use some designs from Chicago's old Comiskey Park. Populous senior principal Todd Barnes, who had been to the old park as a fan, also looked through some photos for inspiration. He found plenty of it and began mixing ideas of the old park into the design of the new one.
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A 12-foot wall was built in center field like Comiskey, for instance. Both teams' bullpens were also put behind the center field wall. A barn wood scoreboard was installed in right field. Even the stadium's dimensions, 335 feet down the left and right field lines and 400 feet to center, are similar.
"It's very reminiscent of old Comiskey Park in that fashion," said Murray Cook of Brightview, who oversaw the building of the playing field. "Obviously this one's in a cornfield."
That was the goal. About 159 acres of corn surround the field. The right field fence has a unique design — a mesh 7-foot-high green chain link fence with offset vertical support posts that helps accentuate the corn. There's even a 16-foot removable fence panel in right field where the teams will walk out of the corn onto the field before the game.
"The reality of the situation is, it's about Iowa and it's about the 'Field of Dreams' movie," Barnes said, "and the 'Field of Dreams' movie is all about corn, corn and more corn and the ghost players coming through the corn and being a part of that, experiencing that."
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Fans at the game will park at the "Field of Dreams" movie site, walk across a bridge and over to the diamond from the 1989 movie. They'll walk through the outfield corn and over to the new ballpark. There's even a giant maze with the MLB logo made in the cornfield for fans to go into between the two diamonds.
MLB officials wanted a big build-up for fans as they walked to the park. They'll have it.
"I don't want to get corny on you," Cook said with a laugh. "But, it's pretty amazing when you look at all the corn."
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Cook was asked what type of park it could be for hitters as he watched the wind move the corn throughout the outfield.
"I think it's just going to be the most unique place to hit the ball," Cook said. "To tell you what it's going to do, man, I can't wait to see it myself."
Guillen thinks the park will appeal to all fans, not just White Sox fans.
"I'm very excited," Guillen said.
Tommy Birch, the Register's sports enterprise and features reporter, has been working at the newspaper since 2008. He's the 2018 and 2020 Iowa Sportswriter of the Year. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-284-8468. Follow him on Twitter @TommyBirch.