If You Build It…

In Field of Dreams, a disembodied voice speaks to Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner): “If you build it, they will come.”  “It,” in Kinsella’s case, refers to a ballfield, constructed in his backyard, an Iowa cornfield.  “They” refers, in the end, to everybody.

Real life, however, doesn’t work like that.  Just go to Dongguan, China, where you’ll find the perfect piece of evidence: The New South China Mall. Built in 2005, the mall is the largest by leasable area and the second largest (after the Dubai Mall) in total area in the world.  But currently — and since its opening — the New South China Mall has been 99% vacant.

Featuring a replica of the Arc de TriompheVenetian-styled canalsamusement park ridesa huge KFC (really), and a TeleTubbies attraction, the mall is an exercise in excesses.  It’s fatal downfall, though, is not its outlandish amenities.  Nope: the problem is its location.  While the Dongguan region is home to 10 million Chinese, the mall is out in the suburbs and therefore not accessible by foot.  And the mall is not, relatively speaking, close to a highway or public transportation.

So for now, few if any are taking gondolas to see Teletubbies while eating fried chicken.


Bonus fact: The baseball field from Field of Dreams really exists.  It was built in Dubuque County, Iowa, near Dyersville, on the farm plots of two neighbors.  For years, the two families had their own gift shops and entrances, leading to absurd results such as the one pictured here.  One family has since sold to the other, and in turn, that owner has put the farm, replete with baseball diamond, on the market.  Asking price?  $5.4 million.

From the Archives: The Little Field of Dreams: A mini-Fenway Park — big enough for a wiffle ball game.

Related: In case you haven’t seen Field of Dreams, you can buy it for about $10 or rent it digitally for about $3.