Key West city officials and more than 300 young soccer players on Saturday celebrated the grand opening of the new Matthew Gilleran Field at Truman Waterfront Park.
The long-awaited and highly anticipated field will be used by the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) and its 600 young players, who represent the sport with the highest participation numbers on the island, officials said at Saturday’s dedication ceremony.
“I want to thank all the soccer moms — and dads — out there, who kept this project front and center and who kept it moving forward,” City Commissioner Greg Davila said.
Commissioner Mary Lou Hoover thanked and congratulated soccer dad and business owner Jim Gilleran for leading the charge for the field that is named for his late son.
“Jimmy Gilleran has been like a bull, his head down and always going for the red cape,” Hoover said. “And now, today, he’s hit the target. Thank you, Jimmy, for always keeping your eye on the goal.”
Former Key West Mayor and current County Commissioner Craig Cates told the giant crowd on Saturday morning, “Everywhere I go, people say, ‘Key West is such a party town,’ but I always tell them, ‘No, we’re a community first.’”
Father John Baker from the Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea blessed the field, with a prayer that included, “The city of Key West has the wisdom to understand that recreation is not a luxury. It benefits the body, mind and spirit.”
Once the ribbon was cut with giant scissors, hundreds of kids in shin guards and uniforms flooded the field, kicking soccer balls and celebrating their new turf digs.