The brand-new artificial turf field at UCCU Ballpark was severely damaged after two teenagers drove stolen vehicles across the field on Saturday, June 27 — potentially costing more than $100,000 to repair.
Scott Trotter, senior director of communications for Utah Valley University, said the perpetrators were captured by security cameras walking toward the ballpark around 7 p.m. on the night in question, where they hopped a fence to gain access to the ballpark. He said they were then able to break the lock to a storage shed where they obtained the keys to a truck and a blue ATV owned by the university and stored adjacent to the field.
Trotter said security footage from inside the stadium shows the juveniles doing “doughnuts” around the infield in the stolen vehicles. According to Trotter, campus police said the teenagers were seen later that night driving the stolen ATV on the overpass of I-15 near the University Parkway exit. The perpetrators left the truck behind when they left the ballpark.
UVU’s campus police made two arrests a few days later, said Trotter, and the suspects were booked into the Slate Canyon Youth Center in Provo. The names of the suspects have not been released as they are juveniles.
The damage to the field seems to have been caused by the wheels overheating, which melted the plastic underneath the turf, according to Trotter. Although there is visible damage to the surface, the most expensive and difficult component to repair or replace will be the melted plastic.
The 139,732 square-foot artificial playing surface was installed earlier this year and was named doTERRA Field, after a donation by the Pleasant Grove-based essential oils company. Trotter estimates that the repairs could cost at least $100,000, although the university is still in the process of getting bids from contractors.
The field and stadium are shared by the UVU baseball team and the Orem Owlz, a Rookie League affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Neither team has played a game on the new field since its installation on March 12 — the Western Athletic Conference canceled all spring sports on March 18 and the Minor League Baseball season was officially scrapped on June 30.
Trotter said it is still too early to say how long it will be before the surface is playable again, but with the cancellation of Minor League Baseball, the stadium will likely remain vacant until the beginning of the 2021 UVU baseball season.
(Featured photo courtesy of UVU)