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Grape Bowl scheduled to reopen in one month

Renovated stadium will feature new entrance, seating for wheelchairs

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Posted: Thursday, May 30, 2013 12:00 am

Want to pack a picnic to enjoy before a high school football game? Or ease your wheelchair up to the top of the stands for a great view of the playing field? Maybe you live near Stockton Street and would appreciate some curb appeal for the city’s stadium.

It’s almost time.

In about a month, the Grape Bowl’s improvements will be complete and ready to welcome the start of the 2013 football and soccer seasons. The project was required to bring the stadium up to modern codes and make it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“This design is much more inviting,” said Jeff Hood, director of Lodi’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services department. “You can see the stands and the entrance as you drive by. After 73 years, this place was definitely in need of an upgrade.”

Original plans allowed for finishing the project in May, so that seniors of Lodi and Tokay high schools could use the site for their graduation ceremonies. But the Lodi Unified School District decided to hold the graduations at Faye Spanos Center at the University of the Pacific in Stockton to avoid rushing the project. Graduation will return to the bowl in 2014.

The design favors function over form and features little in the way of landscaping.

“With limited dollars, we had to be cost effective with taxpayers money and donor money,” said Hood.

When the new stadium opens, usage fees may have gone down depending on a vote at next week’s Park and Recreation Commission meeting. Fees to use the field are recommended for reduction, and a new á la carte pricing schedule may be approved, too.

Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com.

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