Someone apparently took a hacksaw to the conduit that feeds power into the new $60,800 scoreboard at Wade Stadium and in doing so managed to cause some serious electronic damage.
In all likelihood, the culprit was looking to strip copper out of the scoreboard, said Robert Hurd, a construction project coordinator for the city of Duluth.
When the blade made contact with the wiring inside the conduit, it apparently sent a 240-volt jolt to the scoreboard - twice the power it was designed to handle. The electrical surge burnt out components in both the scoreboard and the smaller electronic message board that scrolls below it.
The resulting zap also seems to have persuaded the inept thief to abandon a dangerous and potentially deadly job.
"I think the guy arced it a little, and I think that may be the reason why he stopped," Hurd said. "Maybe he kind of thought better of it and boogied out of there."
Hurd estimates repairs will require about $5,000 in parts and labor.
The damage was discovered on April 30, and Hurd said the city was able to return it to a semifunctional state by May 6, but repairs to the message board still need to be made with the help of components received earlier this week.
"It's kind of a bummer when stuff like this happens," Hurd said. "It's the only game in town. There's no other field like this that anybody could get on."
Ron Tinsley, a public information officer for the Duluth Police Department, said police were notified of the damage on May 11 and have no suspects in the case.
Duluth News Tribune staff writer Tom Olsen contributed to this story.