I can’t even begin to conceive the logistical challenges that faced the organizers of the MLB game at the Field of Dreams. While it may have looked like a regular stadium on television, this was a professional-grade, temporary structure built literally in the middle of a cornfield in a town of 4000, over 30 miles from the nearest “big city” of 50,000. There was no electricity, let alone the power necessary for massive outdoor lighting, a press box, Jumbotron, and concessions. There was no water. No restrooms. Heck, there wasn’t even a road to the field beyond a rickety one-lane bridge across the creek.
Yet, last week, 8000 fans watched two major league teams play there on a night that made you forget all of that. And I was lucky enough to be there as one of the workers.
I have been involved in many major events in my career but this one triumphs as the most well-run. They thought of almost every detail: a med-vac helicopter on the grounds in case of a medical emergency, an entire severe weather shelter constructed to protect the crowds if necessary, rows of dump trucks full of wood chips making aisles in the parking lots (aka plowed-under fields) after heavy rain the night before.
Through it all, two people remained at a command base to handle radio requests from staff and deploy the resources necessary to meet the demands that arose. There was no chaos or running around, rather they had people on standby to address whatever came up. The event ran like it was a recurring production in an established facility.
There are lessons every organization can learn from the game in the corn. 1) pre-planning is golden. They pulled off an MLB game in a field with nary a hitch. The more you can visualize the event, anticipate the needs and address them in advance, the more smoothly the day will run. 2) Having a central person that handles questions, delegates, and triages also contributes to event success. A calm leader can transfer that confidence to the entire staff and tend to the issues without adding any additional drama. 3) Ambiance changes everything. It’s worth investing to create a unique environment and it’s possible to accomplish just about anywhere.
The mantra of the Field of Dreams movie applied to MLB: “If you build it, they will come” but the real trick is building it in such a way that they want to come again. Follow these three lessons to make your next event a home run.