A newly renovated Lodi Grape Bowl may bring a new rental model, with added flexibility for users and hundreds of dollars in potential savings for schools.
On Tuesday, the Lodi Parks and Recreation Commission approved changing the stadium’s rental fee schedule, a proposal that that will go in front of the Lodi City Council on June 19.
Under the plan, presented by Recreation Superintendent Michael Reese, users can select specific stadium features to rent, while the district and schools will pay less overall for putting on football games.
Last year’s typical bill for a 7½-hour, freshman-sophomore/varsity football double-header at the Grape Bowl was $1,500. The charge for local nonprofits, in place for the last couple of decades, includes one hourly fee for field rental ($120) and one for lights ($20).
Lodi and Tokay high schools also paid a $1 surcharge for each non-league ticket sale, averaging about $500 per rental. That fee, put in place recently to fund future repair of the new Grape Bowl turf, came out of the schools’ student body funds.
Under the new fee schedule, the same football double-header has a projected cost of $1,362 — comparable to that of Lincoln High and Lodi Unified members Bear Creek and McNair, which use similar pricing models.
This all-inclusive total would cover:
- Field rental ($95 per hour).
- Staffing ($34 per hour).
- Use of the Grape Bowl press box, scoreboard, PA system and locker rooms ($10 per hour).
- Lights ($25 per hour).
- Use of the concession stand and ticket booth ($20 per hour), which comes with a $45 Dumpster fee.
The only mandatory charges are field rental and staffing, meaning smaller day events like local soccer games can pay for only what the teams need.
“It helps to have that flexibility,” Reese said. “(Renters) can pick and choose what they want off the menu, and nonetheless they are still paying less.” Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Jeff Hood likes the new model because would make users “more aware” of the investment put into the stadium.
“It lets the user know that there is value in what they’re getting,” Hood said. “Anything we do will be based on providing a facility that’s of good value, charging a responsible fee that doesn’t require an unnecessary subsidy.”
The ticket surcharge would also be removed, which should further ease the financial burden on schools.
Lodi High Athletic Director Erin Aitken, who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting, said her school lost over $5,000 of athletic and student body funding last year due to the surcharge. Because the league set game ticket prices, she said, schools could not charge extra to make up for lost revenue.
“That was coming out of our own ASB accounts, so that was our own programs losing money,” said Aitken, who noted that the district only funds coaching stipends and protective equipment. “My athletics at Lodi High is literally run from fundraisers or from gate revenue, so that surcharge absolutely annihilated us.”
Like the current plan, the new Grape Bowl proposal charges more for non-resident or commercial use. Such events would include potential professional soccer games or concerts. Field rental will rise to $125 per hour, the press box package would go up to $25 per hour, and the concession rate will have an additional charge of 10 percent of snack sales.
Locally, the Lodi Boosters of Boys and Girls Sports programs can use the concession stand free of charge. The organization would get that discount, Reese said, because it contributed about $30,000 in concession equipment for the new Grape Bowl.