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“If you build it, he will come.”
1989’s Field of Dreams, starring Kevin Costner, established itself as a classic film for any sports fan. The movie follows Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella (Costner) as he builds a baseball field in his cornfield to attract the ghosts of baseball legends.
“If you build it, he will come.” A whisper not only heard by Kinsella but also by Major League Baseball (MLB).
On August 12th, 2021, MLB held an official regular-season game in that very same cornfield of Dyersville, Iowa, between the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox.
Solotech is proud to have contributed to building the real-life Field of Dreams by providing all audio equipment and some of the lighting, staging, and draperies for what many people consider to be the best thing to happen to baseball in the last century.
Since 1989, the field built for the movie has been a popular tourist attraction in Iowa, drawing over 100 000 people yearly. The original site could not be upgraded to MLB standards without permanently modifying the original filming location. Hence, a new field capable of accommodating a little under 8000 spectators had to be built from scratch less than 200 meters away.
“It was probably one of the toughest gigs I have ever done”, said Paul Ezers, MLB at Field of Dreams’ Account Executive at Solotech. “The biggest challenge was the size of the site. It is also a temporary site, so it is difficult to go around the infrastructure. No pathways existed until a few days before the game.”
“Luckily, we were able to set up the whole network and all the racks in the shop four weeks in advance to work through the potential bugs,” added Mark Vreeken, Sound Designer and Front of House Mixer for the event.
The task of bringing prime technology to a cornfield was challenging, as the on-site team could not simply roll cases around the uneven site. Multiple speakers and amp racks needed to be hidden directly in the field with hundreds of feet of cable bringing back signal to the movie set control area.
“It’s not your typical stadium with paved access everywhere and lots of forklifts. It was not a quick and easy install”, said Vreeken.
It is always a risk with outdoor events: the weather can quickly change your plans. There were no exceptions for Field of Dreams. While the weather was perfect for the game itself, the crew got a taste of Mother Nature’s power in the prior days. “We had over 60 miles/hour wind that came in the day before, with huge amounts of rain, said Ezers. We lost our backup console because of it.” Fortunately, the Solotech team found a console in North Dakota that was brought to Dyersville overnight.
“It was quite exciting for me in a sense,” laughed Paul Ezers. It was the first time I ever slept in a cornfield because I had to wait for the console to arrive in the middle of the night. That’s an experience!”— Paul Ezers, MLB at Field of Dreams’ Account Executive at Solotech
“It was quite exciting for me in a sense,” laughed Paul Ezers. It was the first time I ever slept in a cornfield because I had to wait for the console to arrive in the middle of the night. That’s an experience!”
The wind was so intense that it also blew down a path of corn in the outfield, which would have been visible in the broadcast. While Paul Ezers was waiting for the console to arrive, local farmers came to the site and replanted corn to give the cameras a perfect landscape to show on national television. “It was truly a team effort,” added Ezers. But as we all say: the show must go on!”
On gameday, everything was perfect! From the pre-game ceremony starring Kevin Costner to the game itself, won by the Chicago White Sox in the most Hollywood way possible, MLB at Field of Dreams will be remembered as one of baseball’s most tremendous modern successes.
In addition to the 7832 fans attending, 6,09 million people watched on television, making this baseball’s mos-watched regular season game since 1998. “I’ve done a lot of shows over my 18 years with Solotech, but this one was very special; there is no doubt about it,” said Paul Ezers. It’s one thing to look at it on paper, but once you physically get there, and the challenges we had to go through, the site was very tough to work in, but the reward was amazing.”
“I was really happy with the final result,” declared Mark Vreeken. “The stadium sounded big and fat, and the people had a great time. All the gear stayed on while the audience was there, and everybody was easy to work with. I hope we do it again!” The sound designer’s wish to rerun it all in the future is shared by many, including baseball fans and, of course, Paul Ezers.
“MLB was very impressed with the final layout as well as our coverage and our ability to adapt on-site. All and all, it was a spectacular show to be a part of. I do believe it cemented us into a good future with MLB.”— Paul Ezers, MLB at Field of Dreams’ Account Executive at Solotech
“MLB was very impressed with the final layout as well as our coverage and our ability to adapt on-site. All and all, it was a spectacular show to be a part of. I do believe it cemented us into a good future with MLB.”
Following the incredible success of 2021’s game, Solotech is elated to see Major League Baseball returning to Dyersville’s cornfield in August of 2022, where the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds’ fans will have their chance to live the dream.
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