116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Mark Hope only heard of Dyersville because of the Field of Dreams movie that was “constantly on” in his childhood home.
“I frankly don’t know anything about the community other than the field being there,” said Hope, 36 and from Warrenville, Ill.
Hope is among the people — about 8,000 at the field and many more on national TV — who are about to become a lot more familiar with the 4,130-person city Thursday following MLB’s Field of Dreams game.
Tourism experts see the national exposure from the game making a “big difference” not just when fans like Hope descend on Dyersville Thursday, but also years after the final out.
“There's some immediate impact with those 8,000 people, but then potential for even more with those who see it (on TV) and desperately want to come,” Iowa Tourism Office spokeswoman Jessica O’Riley said.
James Pokrywczynski, a strategic communication professor at Marquette University who researches sports advertising and branding, expects the benefits of the national TV exposure to dwarf that of the in-person attendance.
“Wouldn’t this be cool to take our kids to?” Pokrywczynski anticipated viewers saying. “We could show them the movie in advance and take them out there and throw a ball around. … That’s the thing the community will have to rely on in terms of any long-term impact.”
Karla Thompson, the executive director of the Dyersville Area Chamber of Commerce, said the movie site started seeing the influx of tourists long before the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees arrive Thursday.
“Maybe they weren’t able to get tickets or able to come to Dyersville today or tomorrow,” Thompson told The Gazette Wednesday. “We have seen an increase in tourism especially in these last two months, and we anticipate that to stay the same after the event as well.”
That includes a new generation of visitors who weren’t alive when the movie came out in 1989.
“The kids that saw it back then are now parents and bringing their kids to the site,” Thompson said. “We’re hearing lots of stories of kids having a catch with Dad and even Grandpa too.”
Search interest in Dyersville already spiked in the week leading up to the Field of Dreams game, according to Google Trends data.
Advertisers are also optimistic about how many people will be watching. Fox will make more in advertising revenue Thursday than in any other MLB regular-season game, the Sports Business Journal reported. The next-best game had less than half as much advertising revenue.
The national spotlight is especially beneficial for a state that usually doesn’t see this level of attention outside of presidential politics.
“We have found that people don't have a negative impression of Iowa,” O’Riley said. “Often they just don’t have one at all. We’re not even on their radar.”
In the meantime, Hope is excited to see his hometown Chicago White Sox in a much different setting than any other fan has seen.
“It’s going to be weird going and seeing a game in the middle of kind of nothingness with 8,000 people packed in,” Hope said. “Being able to see them in such a unique event is exciting and something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time.”
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