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.

More than 300 young soccer players flood the new field Saturday after Key West’s ribbon cutting. MANDY MILES/Keys Weekly

“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.

Key West City Commissioner Greg Davila thanks all the soccer moms — and dads — in Key West for keeping the field moving forward. MANDY MILES/Keys Weekly

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.’”

Three young soccer players eagerly await the opening of their new field at Truman Waterfront Saturday morning. MANDY MILES/Keys Weekly

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.”

Hundreds of young soccer players on Saturday eagerly await the opening of the new soccer field at Truman Waterfront. MANDY MILES/Keys Weekly

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.

Soccer players and coaches fill the new Matthew Gilleran Field at Truman Waterfront Saturday morning. MANDY MILES/Keys Weekly
Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.