The rain held off on Saturday night as more than a thousand fans gathered at Mamaroneck High School’s Memorial Field for the Tigers’ homecoming football game against Suffern. At halftime, Kevin Danehy from Fields for Kids came out on the field to kick off a private fund raising effort that will partner with the school district to renovate Memorial Field.
Taking a cue from the MHS cheerleaders, Mr. Danehy asked: “Are you having a good time?”
The crowd responded with loud cheers. He noted Rye, Harrison, Suffern and many other schools host evenings like this throughout the fall and asked: “Would you like to do this more often?”
Mr. Danehy explained that the district was planning new turf for Memorial Field, and ultimately would like to add lights, new bleachers and a track. “But we need everyone’s help to get it done.” Providing an immediate goal, he said, “If we can raise enough money over the next month, we will have the new field in place by this time next year — September 2010.”
In closing, he turned to a group of kids who accompanied him onto the field and asked, “Turf by when?” And they responded in unison, holding up signs, “Turf by Ten!”
The crowd picked up on the cue and began chanting “Turf by Ten! Turf by Ten!”
FFK has pledged to raise $465,000. Together with $500,000 in district funds earmarked for fields in 2004 and a $250,000 grant secured by New York Assemblyman George Latimer, there will be enough to reorient the field, install a drainage system, prep for lights, provide some new bleachers and install all-weather synthetic turf. This is a scaled back version of a plan for Memorial Field that was part of the much larger bond referendum that failed in February.
School Board President Linnet Tse has said, “With the help of private funding, this modified plan achieves a fair balance between the need to fix our most heavily used field and sensitivity to both taxpayers and environmentalists.”
At the “MHS Memorial Field Project 2010” information booth, homecoming attendees stopped by during the game to ask questions and learn about the latest renovation plan. Fundraising chair Suzanne Despins was very optimistic. “People heard we were kicking off the campaign this week. We haven’t even sent out the fundraising mailer yet, and I have already gotten calls from people pledging money.”
First and Ten?
Based on those calls, Ms. Despins was able to add a $100,000 panel of green to the fundraising “thermometer” sign that FFK created to track its progress.
“It’s important for people to know we have a lot of momentum right now. If everyone gives, this project is going to happen, and we will have a field by next year,” said Ms. Despins.
To accomplish phase 1 of the plan – renovating the field itself – FFK needs donations by November 1. This will give the school district enough time to get construction approval from the New York State Education Department, and begin construction in late spring of 2010.
To donate or learn more, community members should go to FFK’s updated website and click on the MHS Memorial Field tab: www.fieldsforkidsmamk.org.