Dyersville, Iowa, Selected As Second Site For New Northern League Baseball Team
Go the Distance Baseball announced Friday that an "independent professional baseball team" will play at the planned Dyersville, Iowa-based All-Star Ballpark Heaven in the relaunched Northern League, according to Ben Jacobson of the Dubuque TELEGRAPH-HERALD. The team will "not be affiliated with" an MLB franchise. Dyersville is "just the second site announced in the new league." Officials said that stadium and team ownership plans "still are pending, but players could take the field as early as 2014." The 5,000-seat stadium will include "more amenities than the tournament fields." Go the Distance President & CEO Denise Stillman said that plans for the stadium "will have to be modified to include even more features ... like clubhouses with showers for the players." The Northern League "folded a few years ago," but the league is "being relaunched under new ownership" and Commissioner Dan Evans, a former Dodgers GM. Evans said that the All-Star Ballpark Heaven site is a “'catalyst location' that will help attract other teams and locations to the league." He said that that was "why the announcement was made before an ownership group had been found to operate a team out of Dyersville." He predicted the league could have "eight to 12 teams by next season and noted that league officials are looking from the Midwest to the east coast and even into Canada." Northern League Elkart County Miracle Owner Craig Wallin said that the Dyersville team’s "proximity to the Field of Dreams movie site will be a major selling point for Elkhart fans and players." He said that he "already is planning tour bus promotions linking the two cities" (Dubuque TELEGRAPH-HERALD, 8/16).
IF YOU BUILD IT...: In Chicago, Phil Rogers noted Go the Distance has been "consulting with White Sox groundskeeper Roger Bossard on plans for a 24-diamond site that will host youth baseball and softball tournaments." Evans said that the Stillmans have "committed to building a stadium that could accommodate 5,000 fans and would be used for amateur showcase events and the Northern League team." Evans said, "We're trying to do something a little bit different. ... This will make it a unique experience for baseball fans who love that movie. It was made in 1989, and people still identify with it. Just sending around photos, people say, 'There's the farmhouse, there's the cornfield.' It's going to be really cool" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 8/17). The AP noted Go the Distance is "scaling back initial construction plans" for the baseball complex. Dormitories for coaches and players have been "removed from the first construction phase, and the number of fields in the initial phase has been reduced from 12 to six." Stillman said that the facility will "open in time for the 2014 season." That also is the 25th anniversary of "Field Of Dreams" (AP, 8/16).