A senate committee has given its approval to a bill that would give a state tax rebate worth $16.5 million to developers of a massive sports complex around “The Field of Dreams” in northeast Iowa.
This particular kind of a tax break — a rebate on the state sales taxes charged on tickets, concessions and other transactions on the site — was extended to developers of Newton’s race track. Senator Tod Bowman, a Democrat from Maquoketa, said developers of the Dyersville project hope to build 24 outdoor playing fields as well as indoor facilities for tournaments, clinics and sports camps.
“This is a unique opportunity for the state of Iowa to create jobs,” Bowman said. “And it’s in an industry that’s growing, booming — sports tourism.”
But Senator Mark Chelgren, a Republican from Ottumwa, suggested this kind of tax advantage should be available to all ball park developers, not just the ones in Dyersville.
“To me, if it’s good for one, it should be good for all,” Chelgren said. “We shouldn’t be really picking the winners and losers in general so, strange enough, I’d actually like to expand this, based on its merits, as opposed to giving one group based on the fact that we may all like the movie special considerations.”
Senator Jack Whitver, a Republican from Ankeny, agreed that developers of similar projects should get the same tax break.
“If we’re really going to open the door, let’s open the door then,” Whitver said.
Whitver and Chelgren were the only two members of the committee to vote against the special tax break for this “Field of Dreams” project. Senator Rick Bertrand, a Republican from Sioux City, supported the proposal, suggesting other businesses like restaurants and hotels will “cluster” around the 24-field complex.
“This is exactly the type of project we should be looking for in the state of Iowa,” Bertrand said.
Senator Bill Dotzler, a Democrat from Waterloo, was another enthusiastic supporter.
“When you think about 500 jobs, you know, that’s great and the economic impact yearly to this area which certainly has been repressed because of loss of jobs in the Dyersville area and around northeast Iowa,” Dotzler said.
If the project is built and this bill becomes law, developers would get a state tax rebate of no more than $16.5 million over 10 years. A group called “Go the Distance Baseball” is seeking investors for its $38 million plan, built around the baseball field near Dyersville that was made famous in the 1989 movie “Field of Dreams.”
The bill containing the tax break for the project cleared the Senate Economic Growth Committee on a 13-2 vote. It now must clear the full senate before it can be considered by the House.