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Memorial Stadium
Strawberry Canyon

Aerial View

  Venue Particulars  
Address 210 Memorial Stadium
Berkeley, CA 94720
Phone (510) 642-0212
Seating Weather
Satellite View
Golden Bear Gear
  Venue Resources  
Hotels, Dining & Deals in Berkeley

  The Facility  
Date Opened 1923
University of California
(University of California)
Surface Momentum Turf
Cost of Construction $1,437,982
Stadium Financing Donations
Stadium Architect John Galen Howard
Capacity 72,516
Luxury Suites None
Club Seats None
  Other Facts  
Tenants California Golden Bears
(NCAA) (1923-Present)
Population Base 7,150,000
On Site Parking 100
Nearest Airport Oakland International Airport (OAK)

Championships 1st

Sources: Mediaventures



July 22, 1999 - Permanent lights are being installed at Memorial Stadium, with FOX footing the $1.1 million cost. "It costs them $75,000 a game if they use temporary lights," said Cal athletic director John Kasser, "so they figure they'll more than get their money back in 10 years."

The lights will be used for televised games that start at 3:30 pm. There will be no night games at Cal. "They talked to me about playing our Washington game at night, but I said no." said Kasser.

Meanwhile, other games will start at 2:30 pm, a time that allows parents to watch their sons and daughters play soccer in the morning and still make the games.

There also are plans for putting chair seats on the west side of the stadium, though that won't be done for this season. When it's done, they will be put above Row 35, with every-other row taken out so there will be more room for those sitting in the approximately 12,000 chair seats that will be put in. That will cut the seating capacity to ~67,000 from the current 75,662.

The student sections won't be changed from bench seats, nor will the family sections in the end zones, where fans can spread out when not all tickets are sold, which has been the rule, not the exception, for Cal games - San Francisco Chronicle

Memorial Stadium
The stadium, erected as a memorial to the University of California World War I participants, was started in 1923. It was completed in time for the Big Game of 1923 at a cost (construction, land and upkeep) of $1,437,696.

The stadium itself seats 75,662 people. The east rim bleachers seat 4,710 while the field bleachers accomodate another 1,440. A sellout crowd would comprise of 80,345 people. Originally there were 72,609 numbered seats.

If the stands are full from goal-line to goal-line on both sides the total attendance would be 40,000. The curved area from the goal-line around to the other end of the goal-line seats 16,500, a total of 33,00 in the end zones.

75,000 fans sat in on the first game - the Big Game - in 1923. Andy Smith coached the Bears, Andy Kerr, the Indians. California won that one, 9 to 0.

The initial machinery for building the structure was set in motion on October 6, 1920 when the Executive Committee of the ASUC appointed a committee to investigate and plan for a suitable and adequate stadium.

Before the committee finally decided on the present site of the stadium, California field, the northwest corner and the property adjacent to the southwest corner were considered. Mr. G.F. Buckingham combined the schemes of Mr. E. E. Carpenter and Mr. Howard, the university architect at the the time, and designed the stadium.

The project was presented to the student body of the University on September 16, 1921 and they voted their approval and pledged their loyalty to the project. Statewide campaigns to raise money for the project in October and by November one million dollars had been pledged or paid.

Memorial Stadium
This photo was taken in 1966 by Ansel Adams of the University of California's Memorial Stadium. Adams was commissioned by the University in 1963 to take photographs for a book to commemorate the centennial celebration of the University.
Over 1,100,000 feet of lumber was used for concrete forms, and 12,000 barrels of cement, 8,000 cubic yards of rock, 4,000 cubic yards of sand, 600 tons of steel were used for the structure. The seats required 800,000 feet of selected lumber. And the pine trees that grace Big "C" hill were planted there at the time of the construction of the stadium. Then they numbered nearly 2,500.

The time clock at the north end of the stadium was installed in 1932 and was the first of its kind in the west.

Synonymous with the building of the stadium was the Andy Smith bench on the east side of the stadium on which the California team sits for every home contest. It was constructed in honor of the great Wonder Team's coach.

Source: University of California at Berkeley Sports Information Office

My father, Bill Blewett (died 1967) played in the opening game at the new stadium as a left half back and drop kicker on the 1923 team under Cal's great Wonder Team Coach Andy Smith. As my dad returned the opening kickoff he placed the ball under his shirt before being tackled. He left the field momentarily to let the air out of the ball and handed it to his brother Jim who was the starting fullback for safe keeping.

I still have possession of this first ball put into play in your beautiful stadium and I am very proud that my Mom and Dad were Golden Bears. By the way my mother (Helene Louise) is now 93 and living in Camarillo, CA.

Just a little nostalgia.

Sincerely, Michael N. Blewett

The best sports walk in the Bay? Go Bears!
Betting Fool, SF Gate
Tuesday, September 9, 2003

I walked up to two Bears. I sandwiched myself between the two glorious golden statues and hollered something about "I say Go! you say Bears!" No one responded. Someone winced.

Too much La Val's pizza, I guessed.

Then I started thinking: Is this -- the path to Cal's Memorial Stadium -- the best walk in Bay Area sports?

It was a perfect Saturday as the Golden Bears prepared to take on the mighty Colorado State Rammies. The day started wonderfully as we actually found free parking. The tradition of pregame La Val's goes way back. I've been going to Cal games since the early '80s.

There's something special about sitting there (La Val's North, of course), sucking down beer before noon, inhaling pizza when your body is still trying to wake up, worrying about the Bears and watching the morning games that makes it worth the hassles of Berkeley and the inevitable grim Cal loss.

Raiders, Warriors and A's fans get to walk across the BART bridge or a nasty old parking lot. Other than the legless guy on the skateboard, not much out of the ordinary.

Sharks and SaberCats fans need to get through some of the scarier parts of San Jose to get to a game. Giants fans can walk along the Embarcadero and freeze their butts off or go through a maze of SoMa streets and get panhandled every 20 feet.

Stanford is nice enough, but I tend to get lost in the eucalyptus groves. And the building is dead.

No matter which angle you take, the trip up the hill to watch the Bears is the best walk in Bay Area sports.

Memorial Stadium
The end zone seats were $15 and while they had received new coats of blue and gold paint, they were still old and splintered and dangerous.

The game was a perfect microcosm of most every Cal game. The Bears made a lot of early mistakes, fought back gamely to go ahead and still found a way to lose. Is the offical mantra of a Cal fan: "How are they gonna blow it this time?"

Didn't matter. I lost my voice and found solace on the plastic turf at "Cheeseburger Field," playing catch with a mini football and wondering what I'd order at the postgame La Val's session.

Along comes the Cal band, playing for the folks on the lawn at Bowles Hall. The two groups exchanged a traditional salutation (Helllllo Cal Band!) and the band marched on down the hill.

Suddenly, I heard something. Could it be the leftover strains of the Allman Brothers Band, who played a terrific set ("Layla!") the night before at the Greek Theatre? There's something magical about Berkeley. Best Grateful Dead show I ever saw was at the Greek (Dark Star on Halloween!).

Surrounded by people in those blue and gold rugby shirts (bumblebee shirts!), we worked our way back toward the corner of Euclid and Hearst.

I had always wanted to go to Cal. But because of insufficient funds, and because I was a mostly horrible student in high school, I went to San Francisco State.

On this perfect Saturday afternoon, standing between two big Bear statues, maybe I was just an Old Fool, but I felt like on Old Blue.

October 2, 2008
Copyright 2008 MediaVentures

Berkeley, Calif. - Seismic engineers apparently have solved one of the world's great retrofit puzzles: how to keep University of California Berkeley's Memorial Stadium from crumbling into a pile of concrete rubble during a major earthquake.

It took decades of research, experimentation and head-scratching, but a team of San Francisco engineers says it has found a way to save the beloved landmark in Strawberry Canyon, which straddles the state's most dangerous earthquake fault.

"I'll sleep well at night, even if I have season tickets in Section KK," said David Friedman, leading engineer on the long-awaited Memorial Stadium retrofit project. "We've come up with a unique solution to a very unique problem." The plan, which is expected to get under way in the next year or two, calls for portions of the stadium to be sliced into blocks that will rest on plastic sheets. When the earth ruptures, the soil will move under the sheets but, engineers hope, will leave the blocks intact. The price tag for the retrofit is estimated at between $150 million and $175 million.

"If there's a quake during a football game, people sitting on those blocks might be seated a little differently after the quake, but they'll be safe," Friedman said. "We can't prevent the building from moving or cracking, but we can save lives."

Memorial Stadium was built in 1923 atop the Hayward Fault, which the U.S. Geologic Survey said has a 70 percent chance of hatching a 6.7-magnitude or greater quake by 2030. The earth could move up to six feet horizontally and two feet vertically, presenting a challenge to engineers charged with saving the stadium and the football fans inside.

While plenty of buildings around the world sit atop earthquake faults, Memorial Stadium is unique because of the sheer quantity of people it holds: 75,662. It's also unique because seismologists know exactly where the fault lies under Section LL, through both end zones and out Section XX.

Adding to the challenge is the stadium's architectural and historic merit, which prevent engineers from ordering major overhauls of the building's exterior. Designed by John Galen Howard, the bowl is on the National Register of Historic Places and is widely considered the most beautiful college football venue in the country.

But it's also the most perilous. The eastern half is built into the hillside and does not need to be retrofit, but the western half, with its Beaux Arts flourishes and spectacular views of the hills and bay, rests precariously on landfill over a creekbed. Its concrete walls are cracked and strained, as the Pacific Plate, which is under Sections M through XX, inches south and the North American Plate, under Sections MM through X, creeps north.

The problem has vexed engineers for decades. At various times the campus has considered building a giant steel net under the stadium or filling the stands with sand. But the model the university finally chose is notable for its simplicity, said independent structural engineer Craig Comartin, who sits on the campus' Seismic Review Committee. "It's a complex problem but it's a simple and very effective solution," he said. "Although it's no accident. The campus has taken a leadership role in seismic retrofit technology. They're all earthquake junkies, so to speak."

At Memorial Stadium, the sections directly on top of the fault will be cut into three large free-floating blocks. The blocks will be separated from the surrounding structure by five feet of open space, which will give the blocks room to wobble and twist - but not topple - in the event of an earthquake.

Steel, hinged flaps would prevent people from falling through the 5-foot gaps around the blocks.

The blocks would sit on plastic sheets unanchored to the soil, so when the earth moves the blocks should stay put, more or less.

"The earth would slide past along that slippery surface," Comartin said.

Below the plastic sheet, a series of stone columns will stabilize the soil, hopefully keeping shaking to a minimum.

"The blocks might twist and wiggle, but they should retain their structural integrity," said Loring Wyllie, a structural engineer at Degenkolb Engineers in San Francisco who peer reviewed Friedman's plan. "It'll be like a ship at sea. It might move a little, but the stadium's a few inches off now anyway."

The western half of the stadium will undergo a standard retrofit, with bracing, sheer walls and an extra layer of concrete coating the interior. The concrete will have breaks at either end over the fault, so if the stadium cracks it will crack in a designated and relatively clean way. "Under severe ground shaking, the building will crack, but we do not believe it will collapse or pancake," Friedman said. "We want the exterior to fracture, but we'll pin it so it doesn't fall." Friedman said he came up with the block idea by studying the existing cracks in the stadium, most notably in Section KK. The cracks were a clue to the structure's particular weaknesses, and also the nature of the fault's movement. (San Francisco Chronicle)

November 20, 2008
Copyright 2008 MediaVentures

The University of California Berkeley Bears could be relocating across the bay to Candlestick Park when Memorial Stadium undergoes its $200 million fix-up. And when the Berkeley stadium redo is completed, fans may be in store for some changes - like having to pay license fees for 3,000 prime seats. Construction on a new athletic center will soon get under way - but even under the best of circumstances, predictions are that the stadium work won't begin until the spring of 2011. Negotiations over a temporary move, however, depend on the school's regents giving the green light and someone coming up with a way to pay the estimated $15 million cost of relocating coaches, athletes and staff out of Memorial Stadium. To pay for the $200 million project, the school is also considering selling seat licenses. (San Francisco Chronicle)

January 21, 2010
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

Berkeley, Calif. - The $321 million upgrade to Memorial Stadium at the University of California at Berkeley has received final approval. Workers will begin preliminary construction activities in June 2010, with completion expected by the fall of 2012. The long-awaited project, the core of which is a seismic retrofit of the historic building, will be financially supported by the Endowment Seating Program (ESP), a financing model being used for the first time in collegiate athletics.

No public monies will be used for any aspect of the project.

The primary effort on the west side of Memorial Stadium will address the need to significantly reduce seismic risk and ensure safety for daily occupants, as well as for the hundreds of thousands of fans who attend games every year. The improvements will bring the stadium to a level comparable to other major Division I programs while still preserving the bowl shape and the western facade.

When it reopens, Memorial Stadium's capacity will be reduced from 71,799 to 62,717.

At completion, Golden Bear fans will notice a significant number of improvements to the facility, including three club levels for those participating in the ESP program, a new press box, wider concourses, and more restrooms and concession stands. Donor seating areas outside the ESP area will feature wider seats and greater leg room than in the current configuration.

The Golden Bears will play at the stadium in 2010, then move elsewhere in 2011. Negotiations are underway to secure a suitable Bay Area venue for the 2011 season.

The Endowment Seating Program (ESP), which is making the retrofit and renovation possible, provides long-term rights to approximately 3,000 seats in Memorial Stadium (less than 5 percent of total capacity). By choosing to support ESP, donors and their future designees will receive seat benefits to Cal football for up to 50 years. All ESP seats are located between the 30-yard lines on the west side of Memorial Stadium.

As of Jan. 15, nearly 1,700 ESP seats have been sold with a net present value of more than $215 million, which is in line with projections. Approximately 2,250 seats must be committed by the summer of 2011 to make the financial model work.

April 15, 2010
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

Berkeley, Calif. - The University of California at Berkeley has reached an agreement with neighbors of Memorial Stadium that will allow an expansion project to go forward.

The court-ordered agreement with the Panoramic Hill Association ends a four-year legal battle between neighbors and the university over plans to expand use of the 86-year-old stadium.

"There's always going to be issues, but this means the university is now more committed to working on those issues," said Michael Kelly, president of the Panoramic Hill Association, which represents Berkeley and Oakland residents who live in the hills just east of Memorial Stadium. "What we have now is a transparent, enforceable agreement."

The suit is one of three filed against the university over stadium renovation plans. The suits drew national headlines, the wrath of Cal football fans and a gaggle of protesters who roosted in trees next to the stadium for nearly two years.

The city of Berkeley sued over the stadium plans in 2006 and decided not to appeal after an Alameda County Superior Court judge issued a 2008 verdict that mostly favored the university. The third lawsuit, filed by an environmental group called Save the Oaks, is pending, and a hearing date is expected to be announced within weeks.

While the suit by the Panoramic Hill Association focused on noise issues, Berkeley and Save the Oaks sued over the university's right to build an athletic training center, renovate the stadium and host more events on a site straddled by the Hayward Fault.

The settlement with Panoramic Hill states that the university will pay $75,000 to cover the group's attorney fees. It also allows the university to host only nine or fewer events that draw crowds of more than 10,000 people over a three-year period. Cal football games and graduations do not count. In its 2006 long-range plan, the university said it wanted to host up to seven non-football events a year at the stadium.

The agreement goes into effect in 2012, after the university completes its seismic retrofit of the stadium and construction of the adjacent Student Athlete High Performance Center.

California Golden Bears

Memorial Stadium
Memorial Stadium

AT&T Park
AT&T Park
Memorial Stadium
Memorial Stadium

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