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Jack Fiori is the inspiration behind the Grape Bowl renovation

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Posted: Wednesday, December 14, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 6:29 am, Wed Dec 14, 2011.

Over the last few months, I’ve enjoyed following the great progress that’s been made in the restoration and ADA compliance of the Lodi Grape Bowl. The one thing I haven’t seen mentioned in any of the recent stories, updates and articles is the name Jack Fiori.

A number of years ago, a volunteer Save the Grape Bowl Committee was formed, with Jack as its chair. The committee was formed because the city of Lodi wanted to bulldoze the place down, rather than take on the Herculean job of restoring it!

Within about a year, Jack had almost single-handedly raised $120,000. This was basically seed money that allowed Jack to start getting the City Council, city manager and city engineers moving. It was also this money that allowed for matching funds, grants, allocations in the city budget, etc., to be brought into play.

To truly document the number of meetings that Jack attended, the cajoling, haranguing and, yes, even harassing Jack had to do to members of the City Council to keep this project going, would take up a couple of pages in the paper, rather than a column or two!

Over the last couple of years, Jack’s efforts have been in trying to entice a single someone or some company to donate a large enough sum that naming rights might be involved. To that end, he drove thousands of miles to meet with numerous “sons and daughters” of Lodi to try and make that happen. I know this for a fact, as I had the pleasure of working on the committee with Jack and got the privilege of driving him those many miles in his quest. Those trips are beginning to pay off.

I’ve taken the long way to get to the real purpose of this letter. When all is said and done, all the different construction projects completed, and we have a completely restored and renovated facility for generations of Lodians to come to use and enjoy, it should be named the Jack Fiori Lodi Grape Bowl. For without the efforts of this one man, Lodi would have lost this historic landmark that has meant so much to the countless thousands of us over the years.

Phil Litts

Elk Grove

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 10:00 am on Fri, Dec 16, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Jackson, I have a different opinion than you. It does not make you or I ridiculous because it it.

    Though I admire constructive good people like Jack and John, I do not agree with your position that the grape bowl should have been rebuilt at over a 2 million dollar expense. I also do not appreciate being in a position of liability as it is just a matter of time before another law suit is filed because of the ADA or other factors.

  • Jackson Scott posted at 9:57 pm on Wed, Dec 14, 2011.

    Jackson Scott Posts: 392

    Darrell, your rants are so ridiculous. Remember, there were people in town who wanted to demolish the old Lodi Union High School and sell it to developers. Thank heavens smart citizens stepped in and saved the site ("Save Our Site" or SOS) and then began the process of raising money & getting the City to buy it. Now we have a wonderful multi-purpose facility of Hutchins Street Square with the same history Julie speaks about.

    While Jack Fiori Sr should be congratulated & applauded for his wonderful efforts naming the field for him might be a bit much. Personally, if no naming rights sponsor is found I highly suggest "John Giannoni Field at The Lodi Grape Bowl."

    John was a mentor of mine, but more than that he was an excellent football coach who touched the lives of countless young men in the Lodi area. He was like a second father to many. He was personally responsible for helping my father & uncle earn college football scholarships.

  • Julie Edsell posted at 10:40 am on Wed, Dec 14, 2011.

    Julie Edsell Posts: 36

    I commend Jack for all his efforts. The Lodi Grape Bowl is a special landmark to many of us who have gone to high school in Lodi and gone there to watch football and graduations. My father, Don Culbertson, played football there after Jack did and I watched football games and graduated there as did my daughters and my son played football there and will now graduate there. It is part of Lodi's history and I love the fact that it is being saved.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 6:14 am on Wed, Dec 14, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    I have to compliment Jack in his determination to do what he felt was the right thing... however, I think the millions of tax payer dollars could have been spent on other needed projects.

    I was one who thought the grape bowl should have been leveled. Keeping in compliance on an ongoing basis with the ADA is too expensive under these economic times. As ADA rules and requirements change, future liability is a certainty. We can no longer afford to spend millions and live in fear of future law suits for the benefit of a few...


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