Vandals wreck Kent’s KYSA soccer fields

Four of the five soccer fields at the Kent Pea Patch were closed indefinitely last weekend after someone tore up the grass fields with their truck.

King County Parks Section Manager Don Harig examines the damage to the Kent Youth Soccer Association fields Monday.

King County Parks Section Manager Don Harig examines the damage to the Kent Youth Soccer Association fields Monday.

Four of the five soccer fields at the Kent Pea Patch were closed indefinitely last weekend after someone tore up the grass fields with their truck.

As a result, the Kent Youth Soccer Association is scrambling to find fields, just so that its players can finish out the fall season.

“The season here on these damaged fields is canceled,” said Wayne Jensen, president of the Kent Youth Soccer Association, as he surveyed the damage Monday. “They can’t be used.”

An unknown person drove a truck onto the fields late last Thursday night or early Friday morning, spinning numerous circles and tearing up the grass fields. Also destroyed were two steel goal posts, according to John Urquhart, spokesman for the King County Sheriff’s Office. As of Monday, deputies had no leads on a suspect.

The soccer players’ parents showed up Friday to stripe the fields and discovered the damage.

“I walked the field and if I wasn’t a man, I would cry,” said Don Pennington, recreation director for the soccer group, of the heavy damage he saw.

The fields are located at South 265th Street and Green River Road, just south of Kent city limits.

Denise Wagner, vice president of the soccer association, said the ruts have left the fields unusable.

“I walked the field and you realize you would not want your kid running on the field because they might twist an ankle,” Wagner said.

Officials cancelled 18 games this past weekend as a result. Five other teams were able to find alternate sites at the last minute.

The fields see use from all over the Puget Sound region. Teams from as far away as Olympia and Bainbridge Island travel to play the Kent teams. As many as 20 games are scheduled each weekend at the fields.

The Kent Youth Soccer Association has more than 1,500 players ages 4 to 18. The group has leased the fields from King County for more than 15 years.

“I’ve been with the association for 13 years and have never seen anything like this happen,” Wagner said.

Board members are working with the Kent School District to try to find field space at Kentlake, Kentwood or Kentridge high schools.

“We are limited in our space because we share fields with the Kent School District and city of Kent Parks,” Wagner said. “We scramble all the time for fields.”

Two fields for teams in the under-11 division were damaged along with two fields for teams in the under-12 to under-19 leagues. The fall season runs until the end of November for some teams and through mid-December for other teams.

“We’re scrambling to get fields for the next three or four weeks,” Wagner said.

It is doubtful the canceled games from last weekend will be rescheduled, Jensen said.

It will cost as much as $6,000 to replace the two steel goal posts, he added. Investigators on Monday hadn’t yet established a cost for the damage.

“Another concern is if we can use the fields by next spring,” Wagner said.

Board members will work with county officials to figure out how and when to repair the fields.

It is difficult and labor-intensive to put in new sod at this time of the year, said Don Harig, maintenance resource section manager for King County Parks, as he walked the fields Monday.

Parents of soccer players have offered to help with repairs, Jensen said.

The soccer association is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest of the people involved in the vandalism. Anyone with information should contact the sheriff’s office at 206-296-4155 or the Kent Youth Soccer Association at 253-852-1054.

Reporter Brian Beckley contributed to this story.

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