Monday morning was the official dedication and opening of Team Vick Field at Hunting Park in North Philadelphia.
Team Vick Field at Hunting Park will serve as the home of the North Philadelphia Aztecs, a Pop Warner youth football team that is one of the largest athletic programs in the city with more than 400 athletes involved with football and cheerleading. A staple of the community, the Aztecs won the Pop Warner Super Bowl in 2004 (the first inner-city team do so). For 19 years, the poor conditions of the football field forced the Aztecs to play their home games elsewhere, but now they have a top-quality, state-of-the-art synthetic turf field to call their own.
Quarterback Michael Vick's charity, the Team Vick Foundation, led the funding efforts with a $200,000 donation.
"It means a lot to me," Vick said at the field dedication. "It's for these kids. It's something they didn't have. Collectively, it was a great number of people who came up with the idea of making this project happen, and I was just one of the guys who was a part of it. … I'm not from Philadelphia. My hometown is Newport News, Virginia, and to leave an imprint, to leave a mark on a city where I had an opportunity to play professional football. It'll be great for the kids for them to ride past and see my name up there. It will inspire them to do the same thing as they grow older … they can understand the significance of being a role model."
The field's construction came to fruition thanks to a partnership between the City of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Eagles, the Team Vick Foundation, the Fairmount Park Conservancy, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, JAWS Youth Playbook, LISC Philadelphia, The Philly Area Chevy Dealers' EcoAd through CBS EcoMedia, NRG Energy and individual donors.
"This is just a great example of a collaboration, a partnership. A partnership between elected officials, the city, the sports team, the quarterback and numerous foundations and business partners who all stepped forward, and, most importantly, the community," said President Don Smolenski. "This is what it's all about. We are excited to be here today to see the fruition of this journey for the Fairmount Park Conservancy and Hunting Park. For the Aztecs and Coach (Jeremiah) Berry, this field will represent a home, a place where you and your players can play a true home game for the first time in 20 years. And it's a home field for the community. Enjoy it, cherish it with the pride and passion that you have here today."
Other upgrades in addition to the artificial turf include a new under-field drainage system, football and soccer goal posts, resurfaced track, electronic scoreboard, fencing and pedestrian gates, specialized maintenance equipment and general renovations to thesurrounding area.
Among the speakers who addressed the crowd gathered at Team Vick Field were Ron Jaworski, former Eagles quarterback, ESPN NFL analyst and Chairman of JAWS Youth Playbook; John Gattuso, President of the Fairmont Park Conservancy; Michael DiBerardinis, Deputy Mayor for Environmental and Community Resources; Steve Barnes, Retail Chief Financial Officer of NRG Energy; Andrew Fishoff, Executive Director of LISC Philadelphia; Frank Quagilarello, VP of Sales and Business Development at CBS EcoMedia; Congressman Chaka Fattah; Council President Darrell Clarke; Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez and Jeremiah Berry, Coach of the North Philadelphia Aztecs.
Check out photos from the Team Vick Field dedication.