Field of Dreams
New multi-purpose field inspires change in Northwest Jacksonville
Words by Carson Rich
There has always been something to do in Jacksonville, and now you can add one more thing to that list. The Boys and Girls Club of Northeast opened a new multi-purpose field at their location at Moncrief Road and Golfair Boulevard. This presents a second home for many young kids in the neighborhood and a wide range of opportunities for events to be hosted in the future. The introduction of this new location is part of an expansion plan taking place, which is bringing 11 new locations to northeast Florida.
News broke about the project plans around two years ago. Shortly after Clanzel T. Brown Park was renovated around that time, they had already decided that they wanted more. It was time to make a difference, one that everybody can benefit from.
Paul Martinez, president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida, told CBS in 2021, “This is about much more than just building parks. It’s about building character in our young people …Our programs provide young people with the tools and resources they need to overcome obstacles and shape their own great futures.”
Members and event planners will enjoy the field along with the other activities they have to offer, such as a basketball court, pool, a full playground and an indoor setting. Groups can contact them to set up events and programs, or they can become members and bring people together whenever they want. Some activities they hope to introduce are summer camps, sports instruction, practices, and activity nights for all sorts of groups. The location is also conveniently located near Brentwood Golf Course, tennis courts, and a career academy school that helps bring everything together like a small plaza for kids to enjoy.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have been major supporters toward the Boys & Girls Clubs, and the introduction of the new field. On the grand opening day of the field, partners — Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, Group 1001 and the Jaguars — gathered to cut the ribbon. Contributors spoke about the project, while children broke it in by sprinting around, doing practice drills, and even running through the giant ribbon to kick it off. This is the 17th community field that the home team has invested in.
The Moncrief area is also considered a “playground desert”, as it lacks playground attractions for kids to enjoy. This $1 million project shows nothing but hope for being closer to a solution. The sky’s the limit for this area, as this field could be the jumpstart they need to bring in more ideas. There is tons of room for things like new restaurants, shopping plazas, bowling alleys, and anything else that would bring in new faces to the area and attract the locals.
Building up the community with more things to do is one step closer to lowering the amount of crime in that area, and the Boys and Girls Club looks to help solve it. The new field adds more fun and excitement in the community, by allowing kids to enjoy time outside with friends and family. Not only that, but it also adds opportunity for growth in the community. The support of big names such as the Jaguars also plays a part in bringing more people to the area for a good time.
Organizers of the project were hesitant about the plans at first, due to the high violent crime rate on the northwest side of the city. However, influencing local children to engage in activities at the field can show them leaders and mentors who can give important lessons that could ultimately better their lives. Families trying to raise kids in violent communities can oftentimes have a hard time finding things for their kids to do while being in a safe environment. The Boys & Girls Clubs has always shown their support in these situations, and this field can become a turn around for the community.
“This field represents hope, dreams, love… I was a club kid growing up and I can tell you that it changes lives. That’s what we’re in the business of doing,” Martinez told First Coast News.
The changes awaiting the neighborhoods surrounding Moncrief Road are everything a kid could want growing up. Hopefully this inspires more change in the future with more event centers and attractions, working to turn the place around. With corporations like these coming out to help, they now have a lot more resources at their disposal, which is exactly what this community has needed.