Denise Stillman talks about inspiration and plans for 200 acres of Iowa land.
The "Field of Dreams," a nearly 200-acre parcel of Iowa land made famous in the 1989 Kevin Costner film of the same name, will live on and give young people a lesson in life.
An investment group led by an Oak Lawn couple, Denise and Mark Stillman, finally closed last week on the deal after more than two and a half years.
Denise Stillman said she got inspiration for her dream by listening to the movie's audio, and recalled Wednesday the moment she told her husband they should buy the property.
"[It was] over pizza by a swimming pool the night that he told me it was for sale. I said we should build a Cooperstown facility like that at the 'Field of Dreams' movie site," she called.
In the future, the site will be a sprawling sports complex built specifically for youth sports, including 24 baseball diamonds and 60 clubhouses.
"We're going to do things like build a summer camp where kids from the inner city came come to Iowa and learn about how to be a great human being through sports," she said.
There are some eerie coincidences in the real life purchase.
"We've actually talked about the similarity between the movie and real life except the tables are turned in the genders. The wife is that one that's proverbially the crazy one," Stillman said with a laugh.
She said she knew convincing her husband wouldn't be difficult, recalling their early days together in college at Bradley University.
"It came out on tape and we watched it in the dorm and he cried, so I thought he was pretty OK," she said.
Stillman also has the support of actor Kevin Costner. She said the star lauded her effort and thanked her for keeping the dream alive.
"He just chuckled and said, 'I'm so glad that someone is saving that. It's my favorite place on earth,'" Stillman said.
The first phase of the $40 million project should be complete in the spring of 2014. Stillman said youth baseball teams from as far away as California and Florida are already signed up to compete in tournaments.