LODI (WKOW) — Senior Night didn’t happen at Lodi High School because this week’s weather took too much of a toll on the field. Instead, it and the football game took place at Waunakee High School — a neutral ground for the matchup against Columbus.
Lodi school officials say they’re tired of having to move games elsewhere due to field conditions at their natural grass stadium.
“You get four, five, six inches down, and it’s a clay base,” said high school principal Vince Breunig. “It’s what they call impermeable clay, and the water just sits.”
Breunig says the school’s dealt with it more and more over the last few years. Now, the district is trying to raise $1.3 million to tear out the grass and put in field turf with an improved drainage system.
“We want our kids to play in our stadium,” Breunig said. “When you grow up in Lodi, you want to play here. Whether it be soccer, football, band or cheerleading, you want to perform here.”
Head football coach David Puls says it’s the uncertainty with a grass field that makes turf worth the cost.
“When you get to that point and it’s your last guaranteed home game, and you can’t play here, you feel for the seniors,” he said. “You feel for the whole team, you feel for the cheerleaders, and you feel for the band.”
When the home game isn’t at home, Breunig says the whole community feels it.
“People from Columbus coming to the game tonight will go to Waunakee to eat,” he said. “Our families will stop in Waunakee after the game. They’ll put gas in their car in Waunakee versus at our local gas station… We’re not ringing as many bells downtown when we’re taking 1,500 people out of town.”
The school board has already chipped in $500,000 of the $1.3 million goal. School officials say if that goal is met by February, construction could start as early as the summer, which would mean the new stadium could be ready in time for next fall.