Lions return to a renovated Hughes Stadium
Use of college facility gives CKM a 75th anniversary boost

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The C.K. McClatchy High School Lions are once again playing football at Hughes Stadium, thanks to a cost-saving agreement between the school and Sacramento City College.

“CKM football is right back where it should be,” says McClatchy counselor Brad Klopp, who played for the Lions in the early ’70s and coached the varsity team from 1989 to 1996.”Kids want to play under lights in a stadium.“They don’t want to be playing games on their practice field that has ruts and holes.”

Hughes Stadium was built for city football programs, and McClatchy, Luther Burbank, Hiram Johnson, Sacramento High and John F. Kennedy all played night games at the facility through the early 1990s, when the schools switched to staging home games to keep costs down.

Last year, as Hughes Stadium was undergoing a $13 million renovation, the college and SCUSD struck a deal that allows the Lions to play at the stadium for less than it cost CKM to rent bleachers, fencing and bathrooms for home games. In exchange, SCC’s teams practiced at CKM and Luther Burbank’s new Sports Complex, paid for by 2002 Measure I bond funds.

CKM Athletic Director Rob Feickert says playing Saturday afternoon games at home meant fans and athletes were out in the often blazing sun for hours. “That doesn’t make for an enjoyable day.”

By contrast, Feickert says, Friday night games at Hughes Stadium are “cool” — both in temperature and in the students’ attitudes. “Kids show a lot more school spirit when they’re comfortable.”

School officials are most excited by the effect the arrangement could have on this year’s homecoming game against the Hiram Johnson Warriors on October 12. The game will include a celebration of CKM’s 75th anniversary.

“We’re planning a rally after school, then a parade to the stadium and then the game,” says Feickert. “We’re hoping the community turns out to show their support for our great school.”

In McClatchy’s early years, some games — like the annual Turkey Bowl against Sac High — drew 20,000 fans or more. Even when Klopp attended CKM (1969-72), games at Hughes Stadium “felt like college football. Parents tailgated. People drove in from out of town. I remember loving it.”

CKM’s next game at Hughes is Friday, when the Lions take on the Valley High School Vikings. JV kickoff is around 6 p.m.; varsity at 8. For more information, visit the McClatchy website at www.mcclatchyhs.net.