LODI — A historic baseball field in Lodi went up in smoke Sunday, nearly destroying the stands and making the popular park unusable.
When the Flames take over Zupo Field, it usually means Lodi High School is hosting an opponent. But Sunday evening, actual flames took over the ballpark.
“Found out it was one of the places that we actually grew up playing, like a childhood staple, you know what I mean. We were completely shocked, it was crazy,” said Lodi resident Trent Ortiz.
Generations of Lodi baseball players took to Zupo Field. It was once home to a few minor league teams and future major league players.
Hobie Schultz worked there as a kid, played there as a teenager and now coaches Lodi High School’s baseball team.
“It does mean a lot for us to play here, not only for the history but it’s a well-maintained field,” he told FOX40.
He said it was hard seeing years of history blackened and burned.
“It was pretty devastating to see what’s happened to such a historic site here,” said Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Jeff Hood.
Hood said because of the intensity of the flames Sunday, it will be a challenge to rebuild.
“It’s going to be expensive to demolish what’s here and replacement cost is going to be significant,” Hood explained.
He said Lodi will have to come up with a $250,000 deductible before insurance covers the rest.
And at this point, it’s too early to tell just how long it will take to repair. The stands, press box and basically everything behind home plate need replacing.
“There’s still quite a ways to go to figure out what we can do here,” Hood said.
Lodi fire officials told FOX40 the cause is still undetermined. They did say they have no reason to believe that any suspicious activity started the fire, though they are not ruling it out. The damage was too extensive to definitively give a cause at this point.
Whatever set the stadium on fire, those with ties to it like Coach Schultz said its legacy will remain unscathed, just like the plaque with the park’s namesake — Schultz’s former coach, Tony Zupo.
“That’s the first thing that stuck out for me, that Tony Zupo’s sign and plaque right there doesn’t look like it was touched,” Schultz said.