City to begin removing sports equipment from UTPB

The City of Odessa will begin removing sports equipment and building structures — including soccer goals, bleachers, AstroTurf and fencing — from UTPB sports facilities on Friday, as part of an agreement reached by city and university officials.

The property being removed belongs to various Odessa-based sports associations that have used UTPB facilities for up to 25 years. Sports association leaders decided to take their equipment and relocate after they weren’t able to negotiate a new contract agreement to continue using campus facilities.

“We are thankful that the City is working toward an orderly and professional transition at the UTPB sports fields,” UTPB President Sandra Woodley said on Thursday. “Contractually, the City has the right to remove equipment and permanent structures from UTPB Park, and they have chosen to do that.

“Due to safety concerns related to the removal of permanent structures, the City agreed to the University’s request to utilize professional contractors to perform this work.”

City Manager Michael Marrero on Thursday clarified that the sports association will be responsible for securing the professional contractors, but city funds will not be used to pay for them.

City staff will be on site to make sure items are removed properly and campus grounds restored to an appropriate condition, Marrero added.

“The City is not paying for anything,” Marrero said. “We’ll assist if necessary and oversee the work being done to make sure everything is being handled properly and safely.”

After equipment and structures are removed from the ground, sports association members will be responsible for hauling the equipment off the campus, Marrero said.

The issue became a point of controversy when at least one sports group this past weekend prematurely began removing goal posts and other equipment from UTPB without permission.

Campus police eventually confronted and stopped the group.

According to the city’s agreement with UTPB, only the city or a designated third party can remove the property.

City council on Tuesday directed city administrators to meet with UTPB officials this week to see if they would be willing to allow the sports associations to remove their own equipment this weekend. The university’s response was a firm “no,” school officials said.

Items that will be removed by the city includes 72 soccer goals, eight scoreboards, multiple storage buildings, fencing, multiple bleachers, shade structures, concession appliances, field maintenance equipment, ice systems, AstroTurf, batting cages, and other items.

The soccer equipment is expected to be transported to Sherwood Park where the association’s soccer teams will begin playing games on Aug. 16.

Marrero said only some items would be removed Friday, with the remaining sports association property being removed by Aug. 31, which is when the city’s contract with UTPB to use the sports fields expires.

Woodley on Thursday thanked the city for its help in developing UTPB’s sports fields during the past 25 years and said the university remains committed to continue providing space that the community can use.

“The University is very grateful for (the) many community partners who have stepped forward to offer their support in order to improve UTPB Park and enhance the overall experience for teams, organizations, and associations who wish to utilize them,” Woodley said. “The University appreciates the overwhelming response from the community expressing a clear desire to see the UTPB parks filled with activity and fun.”