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Massive sinkhole stretching 100 feet wide swallows center of Illinois soccer field

Surveillance footage captured the moment the hole opened, taking a field light and benches with it.
Posted at 6:48 PM, Jun 27, 2024

A massive sinkhole swallowed up the center of an Illinois soccer field Wednesday morning, leaving a gaping chasm where dozens of kids were recently practicing with their youth teams.

Security video, shown above, captured the moment benches, artificial turf and a field light pole suddenly sank into the ground of Gordon Moore Park in Alton — about 20 miles north of St. Louis — before dark ash plumed into the air.

No injuries were reported in the collapse.

"We're very, very fortunate because as bad as this is, it could've been worse because there could've been injury or loss of life," Alton Mayor David Goins said in a post on Facebook.

The complex was built over a limestone mine operated by New Frontier Materials, and the company said the sinkhole, stretching an estimated 100 feet wide and up to 50 feet deep, was a result of "surface subsidence" at its underground operation, located about 170 feet below surface level.

"Safety is our top priority," the company's statement to local publication, The Telegraph, said. "We will work with the city to remediate this issue as quickly and safely as possible to ensure minimal impact on the community."

Michael Haynes, Alton's parks and recreation director, told St. Louis station KMOV that the longstanding mines had never been an issue in the park before and called the event "an anomaly." He also said the turf fields cost more than $1 million when they were added to the park in 2019, and he doesn't expect the city should have to pay to fix them.

But it's unclear how the sinkhole will be remedied moving forward. Haynes told The Associated Press that geologists and engineers will likely be involved to determine the ground's stability.

Gordon Moore Park has been temporarily closed amid the sinkhole investigation, Alton Parks and Recreation said. The office noted its "priority is safety for families and our community" and said it would provide updates on its Facebook page as it gets them.