May 16, 2010
kosmo - See all 772 of my articles
This week, many media outlets reported that the farm from Field of Dreams is up for sale. The asking price for the 193 acre farm (including the 13 acres that encompass the field) is $5.4 million. This amount has raised a lot of eyebrows. After all, this is Iowa, not Manhattan!
Is it worth $5.4 million? I don’t know. One thing for sure is that there are several factors that come into playing when placing a value on the property.
First, the majority of the property is active farmland. There is probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 170 tillable acres. Farmland in Dubuque County can sell for as much as $4500 per acre, placing the value of the cropland at as much as $765,000. Then there is the house and the six outbuildings. Put this all together, and you’re going to be getting close to $1 million. Note that the farm is currently rented out to other farmers – so there’s already a cash flow in place from rents.
The there is the “cool” factor of living in a movie set. If you’re a big fan of the movie (and have a lot of money) what is this worth? There is only one Field of Dreams movie location (although there are many knockoffs) – so the sellers have scarcity on their side.
It’s also very likely that the new owners would want to make some money off tourists. Although it has been 21 years since the movie came out, it still draws 65,000 visitors each year. How much does it cost to walk around the field? Absolutely nothing. The Lansings are happy to let you do this for free – banking on the fact that this will give you a warm feeling when you visit the souvenir stand.
What could the new owner do to attract more tourists?
The obvious moneymaker would be a hotel on the site. This would require a zoning change, though, as the location is currently zoned agricultural.
Baseball camps would be another good way to make some money. In fact, actual baseball has been played on the field quite a bit over the years. In 1991 and 1992, there were charity games on the site featuring Hall of Famers such as Bob Feller (a native Iowan) and Reggie Jackson facing off against Hollywood celebrities. I remember that Reggie smacked one into the corn for a homer.
The Field of Dreams casino is probably not an option – there’s another casino a short distance away in Dubuque.
Some other tidbits:
- The field was originally owned by two different families. The Ameskamp family owned left and center field. After the filming was done, they plowed it under to plant corn. Later, they realized that tourists were more profitable than corn. Until the Lansings bought them out a couple of years ago, the two families maintained separate concession stands.
- In the book Shoeless Joe (upon which the movie was based), the angry writer was J.D. Salinger. Salinger wouldn’t agree to having his name used in the movie – and if you see how he is portrayed in the book and movie, you can probably figure out why! Of course, this is probably a blessing in disguise. If the character had remained Salinger instead of the fictional Terence Mann, it’s very unlikely that James Earl Jones would have been picked for the role. I’m a big fan of Jones.
- I grew up about 10 miles away from the Field of Dreams, so I’m biased in thinking it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. But if you do decide to visit, check out some other sites in Iowa when you’re here. You can refer to this handy guide I wrote several months ago.