For Mike and Denise Stillman, the movie “Field of Dreams” is about more than baseball.
“‘Field of Dreams’ was the first movie we saw as a couple, and we always played the soundtrack while studying,” Denise said. “The movie has good memories for the both of us.”
Now the iconic movie will play a larger role in their lives than just memories. The couple purchased and is working on a contract for the property where the “Field of Dreams” was filmed.
“I feel like a kid in a candy shop [because] I can be a part of something so important,” Mike said.
Denise said their son, 10-year-old John and daughter, 12-year-old Claire, have both been involved in baseball and softball. The couple plans to add at least 12 additional baseball fields and an indoor training facility to the property.
The Stillmans are hoping to not only preserve, but make the memorable field one that can be shared with families and communities.
“The movie and the site is very important,” Mike said. “It’s important to help save one of the more important baseball holy grounds out there. We’re also going to take it to another level and involve baseball and softball travel teams and share the Field of Dreams experience with so many more families and kids.”
“The biggest goal it to have an impact on the lives of the kids in the community and to continue to conserve an important landmark,” Denise said.
In addition to their own personal goals, the couple has been working with the Dyersville Chamber of Commerce and other local communities to explore additional ideas for the space.
“All of them have great interest,” Mike said. “They have been 100 percent supportive and I have not heard one single negative thing. It’s been very, very gratifying.”
Construction is expected to take anywhere between 18 and 22 months and should open in 2014.
Mike said they have been asked several times if they will add something Bradley related to the fields.
“We’ve joked about it,” Denise said. “Maybe we’ll burn a big “B” on one of the fields but we don’t know. In a small way, we might brand a tribute to Bradley.”
The couple currently resides in Oak Lawn and said they have no plans to relocate to Iowa.
“We have a great professional staff that can run the whole organization,” Mike said. “But we will be making trips out there.”
The couple met halfway through their first year at Bradley. Denise graduated in 1992 and studied public relations; Mike graduated in 1991 and studied political science. Mike was a member Sigma Phi Epsilon during his time at Bradley and both were involved in Res Life.
“I learned a love of education at Bradley,” Denise said. “I was always pushed to stay focused on my goals and Dr. Koperski always pushed for internships. His passion for learning inspired me.”