KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Vandals destroyed a youth football field over the weekend, doing donuts in their trucks.
Kansas City Interim Parks and Recreation Director Roosevelt Lyons said Tuesday he has a plan to try to prevent further damage at Heim’s Electric Park in Kansas City’s East Bottoms. But the Missouri Wolverines youth football season still hangs in the balance for 200 players ranging K-8.
Major ruts still run from one side of the field to the other stretching up and down for at least 50 yards. It’s the sixth time someone damaged the field according to the team.
“Vandalism and property destruction due to vehicles is a big problem across our system. We’ve experienced a significant uptick in destruction caused by vehicles,” Lyons said.
Saturday it was captured on video. The team rallied Sunday to say enough is enough, but since then there’s been many questions.
“When are we going to play, where are we going to practice. Do we still have games,” Aaron Cybert heard from his son on the team.
“They were worried if they were going to be able to play I heard the questions all the way down here and it’s terrible as a parent not being able to give them answers,” Jesse Bennett, parent of twin sixth graders, said.
The team’s coach spent Tuesday meeting with city officials and tonight addressed the team telling them, “we’re going to practice as normal. Keep moving forward and try to make the best of a bad situation right now,” Coach Jim Tuso said.
Practice wasn’t quite normal. They tried to find patches of level grass in small areas of the park surrounding the field, with no yard markers or goal posts. Players had to avoid playground equipment and a basketball court running routes.
Kansas City Parks and Rec plans to put in bollards, or short posts surrounding the field soon to keep cars off. The department is still assessing how much it will cost to repair the field.
“If it was up to the city they would put dirt out and seed it and wait for it to grow next year. Well that’s not really going to work. We’ve got 200 kids looking for a place to play this year,” Coach Tuso said.
Tuso said he’s received offers to put in sod. There’s also a gofundme to pay for a needed irrigation system to water it. He’s working with area schools to try to find a place they might be able to play games this weekend and next.
“You can springboard this into a teaching moment for your kids,” Cybert said.
Kids aren’t giving up, but are hoping for a safe place to play where someone won’t ruin their dreams again.
During the practice a parent with construction equipment did his best to try to level the playing field in the meantime. Police are investigating the vandalism incident.