The Lodi City Council unanimously approved spending about $2.45 million on the Grape Bowl to install permanent restrooms, a concession stand and a ticket booth that will all be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The project will also include a new plaza entrance on the west side of the stadium and the installation of ramps to help people get from the upper levels of the stadium to the lower levels on the south side of the stadium.
While she has not supported the project in the past, Councilwoman JoAnne Mounce said she feels like the city needs to finish the project and get the stadium in working order.
“I have not always been the greatest fan of the project, but we jumped and put $1.5 million into the field alone, so we need to jump again,” she said.
The city has already spent $2.5 million on the aging 1940 stadium to install ADA-accessible seating, parking, all-weather turf and enhanced stadium lighting.
The city has identified a mix of funding for the next round of upgrades, including $1 million from Waste Management, $1 million from Community Development Block Grant funding, $200,000 in private donations and $200,000 from the water, wastewater and electric utility for infrastructure improvements.
The council also directed Jim Rodems, director of the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department, to come back to a future meeting with a plan on how to raise more money, possibly through donations or naming rights at the stadium.
Rodems said another $376,000 would make the stadium easier to manage and more useable for events aside from football and soccer. Some examples include low voltage wiring that gives data to the press box and enhancing the scoreboard, so they can put ads up during games or event.
“When we look at this project, we are not tailing about shiny, sparkly things. ... We are talking about items that the department thinks would really reduce our long-term maintenance and management issues on the facility,” Rodems said.
The Recreation Commission did not support the stadium improvements, simply because the members believe the city needs to raise the additional money for the extra upgrades Rodems suggested, commission president David Akin said.
“This would shortchange this facility now and down the road. The funding of $2.5 million leaves the project some $350,000 short of what would make the facility a shining star,” he said.
Councilman Larry Hansen suggested Rodems evaluate ways to raise money, but also that the council keep moving forward with the project. He said the project has built momentum and the community is waiting and expecting the upgrades to happen soon.
He also said it is important to keep moving forward because the city needs to make the facility compliant with the ADA.
“We would love to see the optimum scenario, but we can’t afford all of the bells and whistles, which would be very nice but aren’t practical,” Hansen said.