News of the arrest of a driver who took his SUV into Petco Park and damaged the surface of the field by driving in circles reminded us of a similar vandalism incident in January at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
In that incident, unknown perpetrators broke into the field at night and repeatedly drove in circles across the snow, tearing up the turf of King Field, a flagship venue and the scene of multiple youth sports travel events.
Not exactly a surprise that the community reacted with rage. The mayor implored locals for leads – and asked that the perpetrators surrender to the police.
So, what happened? Well, apparently, the guilt was just too much, and several juveniles have now turned themselves in.
According to CTV News from London, Ontario, a group of youths ranging in age from 14 to 16 years old stepped forward to take responsibility for the damage to King Field.
Police involved in the investigation facilitated a 'Restorative Justice Conference' involving the youths, their families and representatives of the Hall of Fame.
Police note that the discussion opened up an avenue to a solution “which held the youth accountable for their actions, assists with reparations to the damages caused at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, and helps the youth involved to learn from their actions.”
Officials with the Baseball Hall of Fame have said it will cost several thousand dollars (and hours of work) to repair the vandalism, and the damage could mean the field isn't available for use this summer – a big disappointment, since the field is depended upon throughout the summer as a source of income.
Apparently, the vandals will be doing at least some of the work – or shouldering the cost for it. And along the way, they’re likely to get an education in what it takes to repair and keep up a sports field so that it is suitable for play.
The damage was extensive, destroying more than half of the outfield and its irrigation system. And fixing it isn’t as easy as it sounds. Because the problems with the field can’t even begin to be addressed until a permanent spring thaw, Scott Crawford, CBHOF director of operations, expects the whole field to be out of commission for an extended period. CTV News London noted that even with repairs, Crawford said the field will not be the same for at least a season or two.
The cost of repairs would have been something the museum could ill afford. Like many tourist attractions, it has taken a hit since 2020, with travel and gathering restrictions, according to Mayor Al Strathdee.
“They’ve been trying to upkeep them to be the premier diamonds in Canada. This diamond, in particular, is used for youth and the money’s got to come from somewhere. And they’re struggling for attendance already given the pandemic.”
The CBHOF sits on more than 30 acres and includes a total of four fields, including King. It hosts more than 950 events each year, including games for the Ontario Nationals, the PBLO, CPBL, London Men’s League, Great Lake Canadians, London Badgers, teams from Quebec and many others.