It was 42 years ago that Tracy High football coach Wayne Schneider, Stagg High football coach Bob Mattos and Turlock High football coach Les Ratzlaff started the Lions All Star Football Classic.
For most of that time, the game has been played at University of the Pacific’s Amos Alonzo Stagg Stadium. Exceptions include two years in the mid-1970s, when the game was at Merced Junior College, and the past two years, when the Lions moved the game to Modesto Junior College after the aging Pacific stadium was closed.
This year, the game — one of the longest running all-star events in California — will be played June 14 at Tracy High’s Wayne Schneider Stadium, named for the longtime Bulldog football coach.
Schneider said that the game’s multiple connections to Tracy made a difference in choosing the new venue. But he added that the strongest motivation was the Lions All Star Classic committee’s desire to bring the game to a modern stadium.
“When we were at Modesto, it was an older stadium,” Schneider said. “It was nice, but everybody is playing on (artificial) turf now. It will be good to play in a real nice stadium.”
The committee also considered Stagg High in Stockton, which also has a new stadium, Schneider said. But most of the volunteers who organize the game are from Tracy.
Schneider said the Lions hope the change of venue will translate to a bigger audience.
“When we went to Tracy, we hoped the Tracy community and all of the other communities would back the game,” he said.
Tracy’s connection to the game goes back to the very start, when the Tracy Lions Club made the pitch to get Lions District 4-A1 to sponsor the first game in 1974. The Lions are also longtime supporters of Tracy High sports teams, and the Tracy Breakfast Lions donate several thousand dollars each year to Bulldog athletics through revenue from the snack bar at the stadium.
Other venues for the classic, which ends up being a weeklong event for players, are staying the same. Come June 9, the players will spend a week in practice — the North team at the University of the Pacific and the South team at California State University, Stanislaus, in Turlock.
Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.