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They built it, now people are coming

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What you need to know about the new Field of Dreams stadium in Iowa before tonight’s game.

MLB: New York Yankees at Chicago White Sox Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Thirty-two years ago, James Earl Jones as Terence Mann in “Field of Dreams” made his famous “People Will Come” speech.

“...They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t fathom… And they’ll walk out to the bleachers, and sit in shirt-sleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered on their heroes. And they’ll watch the game, and it’ll be as if they’d dipped themselves in magic waters...” - (Phil Alden Robinson screenplay, 1989)

So it is to pass when today, over 8,000 people (over twice the population of Dyersville, Iowa) descend upon MLB’s first Field of Dreams Game. They will take their seats and watch as today’s heroes — Aaron Judge and the rest of the red-hot Yankee squad — battle it out in classic, old-fashioned uniforms against former Yankee Lance Lynn and the Chicago White Sox.

Originally planned for 2020 but canceled due to the global pandemic, the 2021 Field of Dreams Game between the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox will be the very first official MLB game to take place in the state of Iowa. In anticipation of the event, here are some important facts regarding the Field of Dreams stadium that you should know before first pitch.

Syndication: The Des Moines Register Kelsey Kremer via Imagn Content Services, LLC

They’re not actually playing on the field used for the film

Although the field used to film “Field of Dreams” is still intact and open to the public, it wasn’t built in compliance with Major League regulations. (Although the story of its discovery behind the scenes of the 1989 movie is fascinating in its own right.) As a result, MLB spent a total of $8 million to construct an entirely new stadium, which they connected to the movie field via a pathway beyond the outfield wall and through the cornfields. This new construction is certainly a good thing because as you might remember from the movie, there’s just one set of bleachers from which Ray Kinsella, his family, and Mann watch the game.

The new stadium, on the other hand, has an occupancy of 8,000 and will at least partially be filled by Iowans who won their tickets through a resident-only lottery system. Of course, the tickets don’t come as cheap as Mann advertised at the end of the film.

Two youth teams have already broken in the field

In a nice gesture, MLB arranged for a pair of 14-and-under clubs from New York and Chicago to play at the Field of Dreams last night. After a two-hour delay, the Chicago-based ACE and New York-based DREAM programs squared off in an exhibition titled “A Dream Fulfilled,” and ACE catcher Brandon Stinson provided an immediate highlight by launching a grand slam into the corn field:

The ACE program went on to win, 8-7.

They worked hard to pay homage to the movie and history

Throughout the construction of the brand new stadium, MLB and the involved architects and designers worked hard to honor “Field of Dreams,” Iowa, and the history of baseball.

The new stadium bears striking resemblance to Comiskey Park, which was home to the White Sox from 1910 through 1990. This tenure, of course, includes the career of Shoeless Joe Jackson and the 1919 “Black Sox,” a character and topic featured prominently in the film. The squared-off center-field wall and barn wood scoreboard in right field bears great resemblance to those of Comiskey, as are the dimensions from home to both foul poles (335’) and to the center-field wall (400’). Bullpens for both teams are also located beyond the center-field wall, just like at Comiskey.

True to the movie, just like the ghosts of Shoeless Joe and other players past, both teams and the fans today will enter the field through the corn. The outfield wall of the stadium is actually made of a transparent mesh material, which provides a window into the fields beyond and the illusion that the corn is the field’s natural barrier while keeping hard-hit balls from disappearing into the agriculture.

Despite the fact that all of the action will be taking place at the new MLB stadium, the movie field will still play a prominent role in the day’s festivities. Upon arrival, fans will be able to roam about the movie field, play catch on the infield, corn hole in the outfield, and roam the maze in the shape of the MLB logo out within the corn. Other activities and photo opportunities will be available around the complex. Merchandise and food will also be available, as long as you promise not to choke on a hot dog, which might force a player to turn into a silver screen legend of yore and step off of the field in order to come to your rescue.

Syndication: The Des Moines Register Kelsey Kremer via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Just as Terence Mann proclaimed, “America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.” And it’s true. Throughout the trials and tribulations of this country, baseball has remained a constant. America’s pastime. And so it shall remain.