New chapter of Mount Vernon football set to kick off with reopening of Memorial Field

Memorial Field is officially opening to the public for the first time in 12 years.
The once jewel of Mount Vernon was slated for renovation when it closed in 2010, but the project was marred by mismanagement, political fighting and illegal activity that led to the field being left vacant and unused.  


The field was once home turf for the Mount Vernon High School Knights football team which has had no other choice but play home games on a field only intended for practices.
"I can't do my job properly without all of the lines," said Knights head football coach Mark "Sparx" Murray.
Coach Murray said it's been difficult to develop his players on field that is uneven and has patches of grass missing.
"You look at everybody else's field and they got luxury good turf and everything and we just got the grass dirt and the mud," said Knights wide receiver Faishaun Boyd.
The lack of a proper home field stings a bit more for football players at a school with a championship winning basketball team.
Coach Murray remembers the football glory days - he was once a Knights quarterback.
"I graduated from here in 2006, I played football here for 3 years," he said. "We went to the last championship in 2004, 2005 to play against New Rochelle."
The team played its last home game at Memorial Field in 2007. The field officially closed to the public in 2010.
Coach Murray said the closure is a shame because Memorial Field was once the pride of Mount Vernon, the center of community events and a place of sanctuary for the city's youth.
"Memorial Field has always been a safe haven for us in Mount Vernon, " said Coach Murray.
Just last year, the city saw 61 firearms-related crimes, 244 felony assaults and 84 youth arrests.
In many ways, the field's reopening represents the center of the community finally being returned.
On Sept. 24, the Mount Vernon Knights football team will play its first home game at Memorial Field in more than a decade.