Knox County Parks and Recreation employees woke up to a surprise Tuesday morning at the U.S. Cellular Soccer Complex, and unfortunately, it wasn't a good one. Vandals cut a lock and drove a truck onto two of the fields, causing damage to the turf and irrigation system.
Parks and Rec Community Relations Manager Mike Donila estimates anywhere from $2,500 to $3,000 of damage was done.
Vandals tore up two soccer fields at US Cellular Soccer Complex. Anyone with info, please call KCSO 865-215-2242 pic.twitter.com/TuAjC7VVql— Mike Donila (@MikeDonila) March 14, 2017
"We're going to have to flatten a lot of the area, lay down more turf, a lot of raking, some shoveling," said Donila. "Just equally as important, they may have damage some of the irrigation heads, the top of the sprinkler system. So we're going to have to go in, account for all of those and replace them as needed."
The crew is on a deadline. Adult and middle school soccer teams practice on these fields at the end of the month, and start playing games the first week of April. Donila said he believes the crew can have the fields ready for the start of the season, weather permitting.
The U.S. Cellular Soccer Complex is one of the busiest in the area.
"We have 129,000 site visits per season alone. So this is going to affect a lot of people," he said.
Of course, the actual Knox County Parks and Rec crew plays a big role in all of this as well. The group surveys and works on these fields everyday. Donila said vandalism like this hurts.
"It serves no purpose," said Donila, "there are a lot of fun and responsible things you can do in life, and this certainly isn't one of them."
"Think of it as a form of art. If you're an artist and you put together a nice painting and someone spray paints graffiti over it, it hurts. A lot of the guys are upset, rightfully so," he said.
The department has yet to file an official report with the Knox County Sheriff's Office, but they are still asking that people call the sheriff's office at 865-215-2242 if you know anything about the incident.