A venture headed by first-ballot Baseball Hall of Famer Frank Thomas has purchased a controlling interest in Go the Distance Baseball and the company’s ownership of All-Star Ballpark Heaven and the Field of Dreams Movie Site.
Thomas spoke to a gathering of Dyersville and area civic leaders and a sizable gathering of onlookers during a press conference announcing the transaction, Sept. 30, in front of the movie site farmhouse.
“Today is a very exciting day for all of us. I’ve been a part of this treasured soil here. I’ve been here many times for charity events and softball games, but today is something different. Welcome to the Field of Dreams. Yes, we’re in Iowa, but this is Heaven,” said Thomas. “So, we’ve named our venture, ‘This is Heaven.’ We really want to make this place bigger and better than it is so far, and it’s tremendous already.”
According to a press release, the transaction involved the purchase of all the interests in Go the Distance Baseball owned by the Denise Stillman Trust by This is Heaven, LLC, a venture between Thomas and Chicago area real estate developer Rick Heidner.
Thomas will serve as chief executive officer, and Dan Evans, former general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, will serve as chief operating officer.
“All of us are having a moment to admire Denise Stillman, along with her children and her husband, for the legacy and the passion they devoted to making this a baseball Mecca, where people will come for generations,” Thomas said. “I am excited to lead the future development and expansion of the Field of Dreams, to make it a unique baseball destination and experience for us all, while also preserving the dream and enhancing the vision Denise brought to this cornfield.
“This is Heaven is a venture of partners with a baseball knowledge and acumen combined with experience in real estate development and capital resources needed to make Denise and her family’s dreams a reality.”
While the world-famous movie site will retain its original charm, an expansion of the site is on the horizon.
“We see enormous potential to expand facilities here, establish infrastructure and host a variety of baseball tournaments, youth tournaments and activities that will boost the economic development and tax revenue of northeast Iowa,” Thomas said. “We’re excited to work with our neighbors, and government partners as well as civic leaders to fulfill Denise’s vision of diamonds among cornfields, that will make all of you, and the good people of Iowa, very proud.”
Heidner and Evans look forward to working with the Dyersville community and told the crowd the Field of Dreams couldn’t be in better hands.
“I want everyone to know that we want to be completely open-armed with everyone and we want to be such a big part of this community and embrace everyone. There is nothing that will make us happier than bringing everyone together in this,” said Heidner. “I’m no one, but I do want to tell you something. Frank and I have been friends for over 10 years, and with our interaction, I’ve always been amazed at how wonderful he is with his fans.
“It’s the respect he has from everyone and his kindness. Frank and I do a lot together, but most of the time we talk about our families. Family is everything to him.
“Out of Auburn, he’s always been a uniquely quality human being. I have so much respect for him as a person,” said Evans. “I believe in him, I believe in his vision, and I won’t trade my corner office with anybody.”
It’s been said, “If you build it, they will come.” Thomas and his partners believe they hold the key to the future of the site that is on the bucket list of so many visitors from across the United States and beyond.
“This is a win-win for everyone. On the heels of last month’s successful MLB Field of Dreams game, the time is right to take the next steps in securing Denise’s legacy. As the new stewards of her legacy, we are committed to honoring the Field of Dreams as it has been and as it is meant to be — preserved while securing its long-term viability,” Thomas explained. “We are confident people will come. I am so excited today. This is one hell of a destination and we want to make it something special for the entire country. I’m just elated and I’m so happy to be here.”
Thomas and his partners are anxious to get things moving.
“We want to get in here and get started. As everybody knows, we have another exciting game here next August, so we want to use time wisely and get things moving here in Dyersville,” Thomas said. “But first things first. We have to get water and sewer to this place first before anything can grow. Without water, nothing can grow and that’s the first thing on our agenda.”
Thomas is committed to getting more young people involved in baseball and is confident the Field of Dreams will become one of the premier playing facilities in the Midwest.
“This place is magical. My whole dream has always been to give back to youth baseball and see kids have the opportunity that I had. There’s no better place in the world to grow more fields and to get more kids involved here daily,” he said. “Teamwork is going to make this thing ‘dream work’ here at the Field of Dreams. I’ve got great partners. We’re going to do everything possible to make this place — in my mind — history. And history is preserving something that is already outstanding and making it larger and grander.”
The August MLB game between the White Sox and the Yankees put Dyersville in the national spotlight.
Thomas hopes the Major League game will continue for years to come.
“We’ve had very preliminary talks with MLB, and we’d like to see this thing expand out for many, many years because I would love to get almost every team in Major League Baseball to be on this property. That’s very important to all of us.”