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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

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‘Field of Dreams’ site sold to venture including White Sox Hall of Fame former player Frank Thomas – Crain’s Chicago Business

Baseball Hall of Famer Frank Thomas, who played for the Chicago White Sox, bought a controlling stake in the iconic “Field of Dreams” movie site in Dyersville, Iowa.

Thomas is part of a firm called This is Heaven that bought the stake in Go the Distance Baseball from the Denise M. Stillman Trust, according to a news release. Terms were not disclosed.

“We’re going to make this place bigger and better,” Thomas said at a news conference Thursday. “I am excited to lead the future development and expansion of the Field of Dreams.”

“I’m so excited today. This is one hell of a destination,” Thomas said.

Plans for the site include hosting more MLB games, with Thomas saying he hopes to see nearly every MLB team play a game at the site. Thomas also said there are plans to host baseball practices for children.

Thomas is buying the interest in a joint venture with Chicago real estate developer Rick Heidner. Heidner, longtime friends with Thomas, was one of the first investors in Go the Distance Baseball and will keep his original minority investment, the release said.

Heidner also owns Gold Rush Amusements, which provides thousands of gaming machines to over 500 bars, restaurants and other establishments across Illinois. In 2019, he was at the center of a Chicago Tribune investigation that found he had business ties to a banking family who had financial involvement with the mob. He later sued the Illinois Gaming Board, alleging a board employee leaked his personal and private financial information to federal agencies.

Gold Rush Amusement didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from Heidner.

The Field of Dreams site hosted its first Major League Baseball game in August between the Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees. The Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds are slated to play at the field next year.

As part of the deal, Thomas will be CEO of Go the Distance Baseball and Dan Evans, who worked with the White Sox for 20 seasons before becoming the general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, will be chief operating officer.

Thomas, nicknamed “the Big Hurt,” was a five-time All-Star in the MLB. He retired in 2009. He said in the release that Go the Distance Baseball will further develop and expand the site under the new ownership.

“The time is right to move forward, to put in place a team with the resources to make things happen and a team with the baseball and business experience to do it right,” Tom Mietzel, trustee of the Stillman trust, named for his late wife, said in the release. “The family is confident that we found a buyer that will honor Denise’s legacy and vision for the Field of Dreams.”


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