What would you do if you lived in a community where your children, friends or family had nowhere to play outdoor sports? That was the dilemma for people with disabilities in Brevard County 15 years ago. Today, thanks to one man’s mission, there’s the Space Coast Field of Dreams (SC

Jim Tapp and his wife moved to Palm Bay after Tapp retired as a New Jersey firefighter. As they began to meet people in the community, they learned that Brevard County didn’t have a sports field specifically adapted for kids or adults with disabilities. Even though Tapp had no relatives with a disability, he took this oversight to heart. Knowing his former Garden State had a sports park built just for athletes with disabilities, Tapp traveled to it to learn more about its operations. Once educated, Tapp began knocking on the doors of every city council member and county commissioner in Brevard County championing for these overlooked athletes.

After 10 years and thousands of research hours, hundreds of phone calls and in-person visits, in 2011 then Brevard County Commissioner, Robin Fisher, not only listened, he decided to act. Fisher and his fellow commissioners donated the former Max Rodes Park site to the City of West Melbourne with a provision to set aside room for what was then called the Brevard County Field of Dreams. In addition, Fisher rallied on Tapp’s behalf with local and state government, corporations and community members to raise the over five-million-dollars needed to build the five-acre multi-sport complex and playground. On January 5, 2016, Tapp’s vision became a reality when the nonprofit held its Opening Day ceremonies with former Governor Rick Scott in attendance.

The SCFOD resides at the north end of what is now the West Melbourne Community Park. It is comprised of a baseball and soccer field, basketball court and playground, each with soft, flat, rubber surfaces for wheelchairs and walkers to easily maneuver. There’s also a covered “flex” area featuring flexible flooring for additional uses including dances, yoga or fitness classes. And for those wanting a place to hold a special occasion, the SCFOD has ample covered tables and seats for large or small groups.

Operations of the actual Field have been managed by the City of West Melbourne’s Parks and Recreation department since 2019. SCFOD hours, rules and regulations, events, sports leagues and rentals are just a few of the many Field-related responsibilities the Parks and Recreation department oversees. But, the SCFOD still maintains it’s 501c3 nonprofit status and is governed by a Board of Directors who serve as its fundraising arm. Gifts to the Field support need-based scholarships for sports leagues or admission to events held at the Field. To give, please visit spacecoastfieldofdreams.org.

Stay updated about the SCFOD and West Melbourne Community Park via the Field’s Facebook page @SpaceCoastFieldofDreams. For operational questions or comments, or to rent space at the SCFOD, please contact the City of West Melbourne’s Parks and Recreation department at 321.837.7779 or recreation@westmelbourne.org.