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Big League Stew

New ‘Field of Dreams’ owners plan big youth baseball complex

Big League Stew

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The owners of the "Field of Dreams" in Dyersville, Iowa, have finally found a buyer — more than a year after planting a "for sale" sign in the ground along with their corn.

The original list price of the property made famous by Kevin Costner and Ray Liotta was $5.4 million, but a sale price has yet to be disclosed. The buyers are Mike and Denise Stillman, who are fronting an investment group named "Go The Distance LLC" out of suburban Chicago.

The Stillmans said they watched the 1989 movie on one of their first dates in college, but they're not about to make the idyllic white farmhouse a second home. Rather, they're planning on turning the 193-acre property into a massive youth baseball center by 2014. They plan to build more baseball and softball fields and an indoor training dome alongside the movie set field that's visited by an estimated 65,000 people each year. {YSP:MORE}

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From the Chicago Tribune:

"It's the right time for this," said Denise Stillman, 39, a healthcare business consultant. "We just know that it's going to be a huge success." [...]

"It is truly one of the most special places in the U.S. for baseball," said Mike Stillman, 42, a White Sox season ticket holder and the managing partner at Querrey and Harrow, a Chicago law firm. "You've got the Hall of Fame, and of course some of our old stadiums, including Wrigley Field here in Chicago. But it is pretty cool to go out on that field and know that you will have some piece of it."

Though I don't have any inside knowledge of the numbers, I can say that this seems like a good business idea on the surface. Traveling youth baseball and softball teams are big business and placing this complex in the Midwest will give parents an airfare-free alternative to tournaments in Florida, Texas and other points south. (It's here where I'm legally obligated to drop the "if you build it, they will come" reference.)

[Related: Tony La Russa's unexpected departure is a loss for baseball]

But how will the Stillmans drop so much development among the Dyersville corn and still maintain the isolated beauty of the place? The "Is this heaven? No it's Iowa" dynamic was more or less a character in the movie and it's part of the reason that thousands of baseball fans  — myself included — have made the pilgrimage to the small town. If they really are true baseball fans, it'll be on the Stillmans to preserve the original field for fans who are compelled to just visit and enjoy the spirit of the place — even if they're not bringing a $150 tournament entry fee and Capri Suns and Swiss Cake Rolls for postgame snacks.

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