Ahead of what is promising to be a massive event for the City of Dyersville, the Dyersville City Council and Major League Baseball (MLB) have signed a Letter of Agreement to help foster organization and understanding between the two parties.
Jenny Weiss, assistant attorney for the City of Dyersville, said the agreement is an outline that will be used to create an orderly event and the latest draft was the result of a lot of back and forth and negotiations between the two parties.
“We wanted to make sure this (agreement) didn’t run into any free speech or 14th amendment issues,” Weiss said, “specifically, with reference to the obligation to take commercially reasonable steps to prevent ambush marketing and also to enact a clean zone.”
A specific clean zone ordinance has yet to be drafted, but City Administrator Mick Michel said it will more than likely be a “timeline ordinance” that will expire soon after MLB leaves town.
Michel said the clean zone ordinance is primarily aimed to protect MLB sponsors, which he said is not an uncommon step for these types of events.
“It’s done at every major sporting event,” Michel said. “It prevents pop-up vendors from trying to make a buck when there are other costs they’re trying to skirt around.”
For instance, in MLB’s list of sponsors attached to the letter, it lists Barbasol as its official sponsor of shaving cream and razors. In essence, the ordinance would prevent a rival shaving company from setting up shop in town to capitalize on the hype and activity being created by MLB.
This ordinance, he said, would also keep vendors from setting up stands on the side of Hwy 136, which is ultimately in the interest of public safety.
But, Michel said was important to note, this will not impact local brick-and-mortar stores who would be seen as competitors to official MLB sponsors from operating.
“While the city will take the steps necessary to prevent competition with Major League Baseball sponsors, we wanted to ensure that this would not negatively affect those brick and mortar businesses within the city who could technically fall under the definition of competitors,” Weiss recently told the council. “We believe the current language will be an explicit exemption and will allow us that protection.”
Michel said a similar ordinance was enacted on a smaller scale when RAGBRAI rolled through Dyersville in 2007.
“Our attorneys wanted us to do this because it is in the interest of public safety,” Michel said, “because if we can’t control that environment, then we’re going to have people going everywhere and that circumvents our land use and zoning policies.”
The letter does not constitute a legal agreement, Weiss said, and many of the more specific nuances will still need to be brought before the council to be approved.
“Ultimately it is up to the council to decide what they want to do,” Michel said.
Mayor Jim Heavens said there were several things within the letter that struck him, including a security plan that is supposed to be mutually approved by all parties.
Weiss said that the proposal will likely be consistent with agreements MLB has used with other venues, but she said, there is a difference in providing security for a large metropolitan area like Minneapolis versus a rural venue surrounded by cornfields.
“Dyersville has its own unique characteristics and needs and we need to make sure any agreement we put in place will address those,” she said.
Michel said the city is already working with the FBI as well as the State of Iowa and MLB security personnel, adding that basically, two security plans are coming into the fold — one for the Field of Dreams Movie Site itself and one for the surrounding area.
“We hope to have that finalized within the next 60-90 days,” he said.
Michel said the security plan likely won’t come before the council for approval, due to its sensitive nature.