St. Joseph High School, whose home field has been Patti Welder Stadium for about half a century, played its first home game in Bloomington last week and will play there again Friday when the Flyers face Industrial.
The decision to play its home games at a different location was made after the Victoria school district raised its stadium rental rate to $1,200.
St. Joseph was previously paying $300 a game to use the VISD-owned stadium, which holds 3,000 people.
Bloomington, which has a capacity of about 1,000, is charging St. Joseph $600 per game, according to Bloomington Superintendent Mark Anglin.
VISD Athletic Director Bobby Jack Wright explained the increase was because of the district’s expenses to operate the stadium.
“As far as I’m concerned, they can play at Patti Welder,” Wright said. “They’re more than welcome to play at Patti Welder, but everybody has to understand those rates are based on the expenses involved. We’re not trying to make any money off anybody. We’re just trying to be fiscally responsible to our workers and the school district.”
Wright said the stadium rental rate increase applies to all schools that want to use the stadium – not just St. Joseph.
The raise also includes Memorial Stadium, where the Flyers have played three games since the 2016 season.
Memorial Stadium, which didn’t host a playoff game last season, has a capacity of 9,500.
“You have staff that you have to pay and you have to pay to clean the stadium,” Wright said. “We’re trying to do a better job of being fiscally responsible to the district.”
St. Joseph president John Gilley declined to comment about the rental increase.
“St. Joseph’s official stance on this topic is no comment, but we do value any past, present and future relationship with VISD,” he said.
VISD also raised rental fees for other athletic venues, he said, after district officials reviewed the rates.
“It’s not just a stadium issue,” Wright said. “We’ve had to go up on our aquatics center rates and our gyms at East and West (high schools).”
He added, “It’s across the board when it comes to raising our rates up to par of the year 2020. The cost of living has gone up, and so has running our programs at VISD.”
The Flyers have four home games left against Industrial, Houston Second Baptist, Fort Bend Christian Academy and Houston Westbury Christian. St. Joseph has not yet announced where its final three home games will be played.