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.