The ‘Field of Dreams’ Film Set Was Abandoned Following Production

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures / CaptainOT / MovieStillsDB

“If you build it, he will come.” These are the words of the mysterious voice that novice farmer Ray Kinsella (excellently portrayed by Kevin Costner) hears one evening while walking through his cornfield, triggering the narrative of the cult classic movie, Field of Dreams (1989). Now, the film set sits effectively abandoned, though it gets many visitors who come to see the place for themselves.

The magic of the movie

Even today, the story of a man who impulsively follows the advice of an ominous voice to build a baseball field on his farm still remains one of the most inspiring tales in film history. This fantasy sports drama, a film that used baseball as an allegory about making amends with your past, is at the same time a love letter to the sport and a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

Two signs mark the entrances to the Field of Dreams. (Photo Credit: Madmaxmarchhare / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.5)

When, at the end of the film, baseball fans from all over America arrived at the stadium to witness the magical match, no one expected that same act to happen following the movie. Since the 1989 movie’s release, about 65,000 people per year have stepped onto the Field of Dreams. The baseball diamond soon became a huge tourist attraction and a true pop culture phenomenon.

Picking the filming location

With the exception of a few location shots taken at Fenway Park in Boston, almost all of the film was shot in and around Dubuque County, Iowa. The persistence of the Iowa Film Board and a photo delivered to the producers by Sue Riedel, who scouted the location, convinced the studio to make the movie on an old farm near Dyersville, Iowa.

Field of Dreams, Dyersville, Iowa. (Photo Credit: Justin Brockie / Flickr CC BY 2.0)

The farm was owned by the Lansing family and it had all the right features to be the film’s main story spot. However, after filming began, for the sake of authenticity and story progression, the studio and the filmmakers decided to build a real baseball field on the farm.

Field of Dreams house. (Photo Credit: Justin Brockie / Flickr CC BY 2.0)

Most of the field was on the farm owned by the Lansing Family, including the diamond and the adjacent house. The rest of it, including the left and center field, were made on the farm next door owned by the Ameskamp family. The choice for the field to occupy two adjacent farms was a result of the filmmakers’ desire to have all the sunset shots be unrestrained and natural.

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Leaving the baseball field behind

After filming wrapped, the baseball field that was created specifically for the movie was ultimately left behind. The Lansings kept their portion of the field intact and added a small hut so visitors could buy souvenirs. Alternatively, the Ameskamp family decided to return to it to farm land. However, after seeing how many people were visiting their neighbors site, they restored the rest of the field and opened their very own souvenir shop.

The Ghost Players playing in front of visitors. (Photo Credit: Justin Brockie / Flickr CC BY 2.0)

Throughout the years, the place became more than just a cherished symbol. It became an epicenter of continual disputes, with problems getting bigger and bigger as the years passed. The two owners have been at odds regarding the commercialization of the site as the Lansing family was welcoming tourists to their property free of charge. Until August 2007, the two farms ran separate tourist facilities. That changed when Rita Ameskamp sold her portion of the baseball field to Don and Becky Lansing.

Problems still persist for the former set

In mid-May 2010, after years of running the Field of Dreams, the family put the entire property, including a two-bedroom house, on the market for $5.4 million. Allegedly, neither Kevin Costner or Ray Liotta wanted to buy out the former set. Finally, in October 2011, a sale was agreed upon with a company called Go the Distance Baseball now owning the 193-acre property. Since acquiring the property, they have successfully preserved and run the site since December 2012.

View of the film set field, house, and barn, in 2012. (Photo Credit: / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0)

Read more: Popeye Village: The Abandoned Film Set Turned Popular Tourist Attraction

Unfortunately, the zoning areas still remain in dispute. The most recent dispute occurred when an Illinois couple pushed for a plan to develop the farm around the field into a massive $74 million baseball and softball complex for traveling youth tournament teams. This sparked feuds, public relations battles, and lawsuits between neighbors and against the city of Dyersville.

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