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Lodi City Council moves forward with Grape Bowl improvements

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Posted: Thursday, March 22, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 8:01 am, Thu Mar 22, 2012.

Want your name emblazoned on the entry plaza of the Grape Bowl? Then prepare to fork over $2 million.

The Lodi City Council took several steps on Wednesday toward the next phase of construction at the Grape Bowl, which will includes an entry plaza, concession stands, restrooms, a ticket booth and Americans with Disability Act improvements.

The council unanimously approved the $2.2 million project, and decided to move the start of construction up by 5 months to try to avoid construction interfering with high school graduation.

The council also approved different sponsorship and fundraising levels ranging from $500 for a plaque in a community courtyard to $2 million to have the stadium's naming rights.

Councilman Bob Johnson said the city is working with a professional fundraiser to find donors in the community who would be interested.

"You look at the cost of $2 million and you might think, 'Who's smoking dope? Who's going to find $2 million?' ... but we found $1 million through Waste Management."

Aside from the entry plaza, concessions, restrooms and a ticket booth, the improvements will also include ADA seating and ADA access to the upper concourse, stadium lighting modifications and landscaping improvements.

The council debated the best way to fit in the construction, with graduation in the late spring and football in the early fall.

City staff suggested that the council start construction in March 2013, and then either move graduation or potentially delay construction by four weeks to allow the contractor to stabilize the site.

Council decided instead to start construction in mid-November and work through the winter, even though city staff said that could increase costs, especially if there is a lot of winter rain.

"This is soil that can be worked on in the rainy season. It is sandy soil," Save the Grape Bowl president Jack Fiori said. "In the city of Lodi, these people want to work, right now. They're competitive, and the longer we wait the more cost there will be."

Fiori said they will also have an easier time fundraising if the project is moving forward at a steady pace.

The council approved a variety of sponsorship opportunities:

  • $2 million to name the stadium with recognition on the entryway.
  • $500,000 to name the field with recognition on the field retaining wall.
  • $400,000 to name the field house.
  • $200,000 to name the scoreboard.
  • $500 to $1,000 for ceramic or metallic plaques that will be in a community courtyard.

The council also approved spending $67,613 for a new scoreboard that will include places for advertisers and speakers for the sound system. The entire cost to install it this summer is $178,000, which includes a steel frame and foundation.

During the meeting, Councilman Phil Katzakian stood up and placed two Post-Its on the poster of the planned scoreboard that read "Mounce for City Council" and "Johnson for City Council." He said those could be the Grape Bowl's first advertisers as they are up for re-election this year.

City staff has four sources of funding for the project. The first is $1 million from Waste Management that the company gave to the city in exchange for a 7-year contract extension.

The council voted Wednesday to apply for an $800,000 loan through federal Community Development Block Grant funding for the ADA projects. It will be a 15-year schedule, so the city will take $67,000 of the federal funds it receives each year to repay the loan.

The money will help the city open up the stadium to the whole community, Councilman Larry Hansen said.

"The underlying program here is the ADA compliance for the severely handicapped, the handicapped and the elderly citizens of Lodi that want to attend events and to be able to do so if they have difficulty in movement."

The Save the Grape Bowl campaign has also raised $129,000 toward the project, and Metro PCS agreed to pay $35,000 as part of a contract in order to install equipment on the city's water tower.

This leaves the city with a $300,000 shortfall.

City Manager Rad Bartlam said staff expects the actual bids from contractors to come in less than the project's estimated costs because of the economy.

"We are expecting the actual bids will be less than we are estimating, so that's where some or all of the amount will come out," Bartlam said.

Mayor JoAnne Mounce said she will support the Grape Bowl, even though she has some reservations that the city is taking out a CDBG loan.

"It's just from a fiscally sound standpoint, going down with a leap of faith is always a little unsettling for me," she said.

Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at maggiec@lodinews.com. Read her blog at www.lodinews.com/blogs/citybuzz.

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  • roy bitz posted at 8:44 pm on Thu, Mar 22, 2012.

    roy bitz Posts: 489

    Any city council member or city staff member----please respond:

    Last Fall our city council members proposed the transfer of $200,000 from the general fund--to the Grape Bowl. I recall the council discussing the legality of this proposal and asking the city attorney to research the legality of this transfer. The matter was listed on a December council agenda but it was not discussed at that meeting.
    Was $200,000 transferred from general fund to the Grape Bowl?

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 4:18 pm on Thu, Mar 22, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    Mr Scott stated...On the bright side, if all of the work is done right this new facility can be a great jewel for Lodi

    I guess it depends on how you define “ great jewel”... I think of a great jewel as an unnecessary expensive ornament that the wealthy waste money on.

    I wonder what percentage of that increase in spending is on account of the ADA and how many future lawsuits and repairs will have to be paid because of ADA hustlers. The grape bowl is more a money toilet bowl that should have been demolished instead of held hostage to the ADA regulations.

  • Jackson Scott posted at 11:31 am on Thu, Mar 22, 2012.

    Jackson Scott Posts: 382

    First, thank you Roy for calling out Councilman Johnson. That $1M is nothing more than over-inflated garbage rates paid for by every citizen in Lodi. Where is Doug when we need him to throw in a "GOB" rant about this $1M? (hint: he's on the record blog posting as Richie Rich. just read a Lodi article)

    Second, where, or who, is going to pony up $2M? Sure, there are alot of rich Lodians who could drop that kind of cash, but how much of a love do they have for the Grape Bowl? Did they play football? March in the band? IMO $2M is just too much. I could see at $1M possible donors being General Mills, the Robert Mondavi family, and maybe Mike Crete of Calif Coolers fame.

    Third, WHY are we considering changing the name of the stadium? It is the legenday Lodi Grape Bowl! Oh, yes, to raise money. So we are going to throw tradition out the window and sell the naming rights to the highest bidder? Granted, the new design has cut a huge hole in the west end so it is no longer a traditional "bowl," but why do we neeed to change the name?

    Finally, the field name. If we keep it as the GB allow someone to pay the money to have it called "Big G Field at the Lodi Grape Bowl" or "Robert Mondavi Field at...." Personally I'd prefer to have it named for one of Lodi's greatest coaches, mentors, and molder of young men of all time: John Gianonni Field. Yes, I'm old school.

    On the bright side, if all of the work is done right this new facility can be a great jewel for Lodi. The site could be used for both football & soccer sections games, etc. Since UOP has neglected their once great stadium there is a huge need in our area for a top notch facility.

  • roy bitz posted at 7:05 am on Thu, Mar 22, 2012.

    roy bitz Posts: 489

    Councilman Johnson says "we found a million dollars (for the Grape Bowl) from Waste Management".
    This million is not found money!
    This million bought Waste Management the city's waste contract through the year 2029 without seeking competitive bids. This was a "quid pro quo"--it was not a gift.
    What a waste!



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