A second field dedicated to the late son of power attorney Doug Mark will open Aug. 22.
The latest installment of Tommy’s Field is unveiled at Vista Del Mar as part of a collaboration with Vista Del Mar Children’s and Family Services. Located in the center of Vista’s 18-acre campus in West LA, the multi-purpose sports court (with lighting) aligns with Tommy’s passion for sports, especially football.
The grand opening features remarks from LA Mayor Karen Bass and Councilwoman Katy Yaroslavsky, along with Doug and Nikki Mark and other notables from the LA Galaxy, LA Breakers, Elaine P. Wynn & Family Foundation, and The Steve Tisch Foundation.
Also scheduled for the day: Youth sports activities for residents, the healthcare community and Vista’s leadership, led by President and CEO Lena Wilson. Also participating: Premiere Philanthropy Founder and CMO Craig Prizant, Leadership Advisory Board (LAB) members, Vista teachers, support teams, volunteers, donors, and other community partners. The Vista Del Mar nonprofit provides services in education, mental health, autism, adoptions, and early intervention.
Tommy was one month shy of his 13th birthday when he passed away on April 17, 2018. The exact cause of death has never been revealed, although his father confirms it was likely due to an undiagnosed structural problem with his heart. “Tommy was all about the spirit of the game,” says Doug The Hollywood Reporter. “He danced and sang and played all his life.”
Because of that passion, Tommy had always asked his parents why his local recreation center didn’t have a field. “Tommy had told us when he was still here that we needed a field,” his father recalled. After he passed away, his parents tried to do the heavy lifting of dedicating a space in his honor, though they faced months of debate and opposition from locals who opposed the plans by criticizing everything from the size to the artificial surface. “Shocking,” Doug recalls, neighbors and some community leaders tried to block it at every turn.
The Marks never gave up – Doug credits Nikki for “always handling Tommy’s legacy with great enthusiasm and care” – and the first Tommy’s Field opened on September 26, 2021 at Westwood Recreation Center. “We beat them and it was fantastic,” he added. In the back and forth of it all, Doug says Vista officials heard about the trials and tribulations, so they invited the family to their campus, where the Marks were immediately impressed by what they saw.
“We looked at each other and said, ‘Yeah, Tommy doesn’t give us a choice. We have to build a second one,'” says Doug, who gets emotional at the thought. “Tommy literally inspired it for kids who are different from him. The school now get a pitch that is flat, a pitch that you can bounce a ball on and run on without tripping over the ruts, it’s a great pitch to play on and that’s what Tommy always wanted.”
This story first appeared in the Aug. 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.