City Sports Park Vandalized, Hundreds of Youth Games Canceled
POSTED: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - 4:44pm
UPDATED: Thursday, September 1, 2011 - 8:40am
EL PASO - Copper thieves have hit an El Paso sports park, taking hundreds of dollars worth of wiring from a transformer box. But they've actually taken much more than that.
Hundreds of youth soccer and football games will now have to be canceled or rescheduled because there's no electricity to light up the fields at night.
City crews spent Wednesday morning trying to repair the damage. The transformer box, which supplies power to the Westside Sports Complex, is completely destroyed.
Copper thieves ripped open the box and cut out the copper cables. It happened sometime between late Sunday night and early Monday morning.
"This person knew what they were doing," said Paula Powell, Sports Manager with the Parks and Rec Department.
She thinks the thieves could have been electricians, because they had to know how to shut off power to the box before getting to work. She says they got away with 12, 6 foot strands, of copper wiring. And they did at least $10,000 worth of damage.
"What I do know from working in the city is they're going to start off the year $10,000 in the hole."
While the transformer box can be replaced, experiences can't. All night games at the park have been canceled until further notice.
"There are at least 5,000 families that will be affected by this one night of vandalism," said Powell.
It'll take at least a week to restore power to the field's lights.
"We will be talking to the players tonight and they will be very disappointed, said Trent Hatch, a pee-wee football coach. “We have some great kids and they won't like the news."
He says his player have been practicing for weeks. All of them were looking forward to their first night game under the big lights.
"We always tell them the reward is to come play at night under the big lights in front of their friends and family. So they've worked hard and it's very disappointing that people would come out and take advantage of the park like this."
The city says police are investigating and were able to lift a few finger prints from the transformer box. Powell has this message for whoever is responsible:
"Just realize how many people you affected just to get a little bit of money. To me the impact is amazing. There are kids that aren't going to be able to play because of this."
If you have any information about who is responsible for the theft, call police.