The Lodi School District held a public comment forum on Wednesday, Sept. 11 at the Performing Arts Center for the community to ask questions about a possible renovation to the Lodi High School stadium.
Vince Breunig, high school principal, originally presented on this at the August School Board meeting. He, along with the Facility and Finance Committee, have worked to come up with solutions for fixing the stadium, which includes updating the field to include turf instead of the natural grass field.
The stadium has been suffering from an excessive amount of water damage over the last few years. Breunig said this is due to an impermeable layer of clay that sits underneath the school, which causes water to sit at the surface and allows for further damage to the field.
Bruenig said this has been affecting their football and soccer athletes heavily recently as they have to reschedule games or move games out of the city.
“Last year we played our final home football game in Waunakee,” he said. “We have student athletes where their final home football game was played in Waunakee. Some of our band students, their final band performance.”
The school district has three possible options for the field: Continue their regular maintenance of the field as they have been, reconstruct the field with a brand new grass field with drainage and soil improvements or to install artificial turf.
The audience at the Performing Arts Center got to see “The Blue Devil Vision” for the stadium as Breunig showed off renderings for the field with artificial turf. This includes creating a dual-purpose football and soccer field with realigned stadium lighting, concrete visitor bleacher pad, pedestrian walkway, stadium field and perimeter fencing and a donor wall.
There is also a “phase two” part to this project but there are no definitive plans for this at the moment. This includes new ticket booths and archway entryways, as well as a plaza area.
“We don’t know when that will happen or even if that will happen,” Breunig said.
When comparing this option to a natural grass field, Breunig said students would need to stay off the field for one to two years while the field grows. He also said using sod is an option, but it would cost around $20,000 more and would not grow as well as a seeded field, and it could lead to needed fixes three to four years in the future.
Right now with the grass field, football athletes and boys and girls soccer are able to use the field—with limited access for band students. If the field were converted to turf, Breunig said all students could it, including cheerleaders, youth football and soccer, physical education classes, as well as baseball and softball athletes.
“One of the first times we go outside [for baseball and softball] is our first game of the year,” Breunig said.
When asked about maintenance, Breunig said artificial turf has a 10-year warranty and a lifespan of 12-15 years. There is also shockpad that would be placed underneath the turf that has a lifespan of twice the length of the turf. Replacement costs for turf range between $300,000-400,000.
Purchasing the turf also comes with the needed equipment to maintain it. Breunig siad maintenance costs would go down with turf, although they would disappear completely. The district currently spends between $12,000-15,000 a year on maintenance.
The cost for the artificial turf project is $1.3 million. Breunig said the district is hoping to fundraise $800,000 worth of the project and then the School Board will borrow money for the remaining $500,000. He said if this goal is not reached, the project will likely not go forward.
One resident asked about the district’s plant o get the word out about fundraising for this. Breunig said the district has begun reaching out to individual businesses and just recently went public with the fundraiser. They also plan to have students reach out to family members and other Lodi alumni.
Lodi has created various donor levels for the project, ranging anywhere from a “Team Lodi” donor ($499 or below) to being able to name the stadium for 10 years ($750,000).
To donate or to view the full master plan along with renderings and other info, go to fundraising.pobinc.com/lodi-blue-devils/.