A short walk up Tightwad Hill reveals a hive of construction activity. Photo: Lance Knobel

The demolition phase of work on Memorial Stadium is giving way to construction. Secure fences conceal all but the smallest glimpses for passersby. But the view from above the stadium shows a decidedly unfamiliar sight: no stands, no field — just a floor of dirt and a child’s delight of construction equipment.

The $321 million stadium project is scheduled for completion in time for the Cal Bears’ 2012 season.

Lance Knobel

Lance Knobel (co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine in Britain,...

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  1. More on this important story from the Daily Cal. I would only question the estimate of 50 trucks per day which seems like a very low estimate. At least a few weeks back, I saw a nearly constant stream of trucks going up and down Hearst.

    Residents irritated by seemingly endless erection of campus stadium


    Since heavy construction began in January, workdays have lasted from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the week and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends.

    After a lawsuit was filed by members of the community group Stand Up for Berkeley! and the Council of Neighborhood Associations last February, an Alameda County Superior Court judge ruled in November that the addendum prepared by the university to its 2006 Environmental Impact Report did not comply with the California Environmental Quality Act because the university had made changes to the report without publicly disclosing them.


  2. So instead of acting so butthurt about it, why not just go blow up the stadium? 70,000 dead athletes and sports fans can’t be a bad thing, can it?

  3. “It helps to get an education in life.”

    Football isn’t life.
    It’s not really even close.

    And I think you’ll find that most folks who are grumpy about the over-emphasis on sports in Public Universities are also pretty mad about public money being used for construction for professional sports teams as well.

  4. Because they’re a bunch of students, most of which will not play professionally. It helps to get an education in life. By the way, privately funding a stadium is not what professional teams usually do. Alameda county owns the oakland coliseum and is still paying off the debt it acquired when it remodeled it with “mount davis” on the east side. It’s strange how professional teams which make a lot of money don’t pay for their stadiums, while the cal stadium is paid for by fundraising.

  5. OOH! ZING! Cute response, coming from someone who’s whining about “false choices” and “red herrings.”

    This may not be particularly germane to the topic at hand, but if the team is so wildly popular, and the stadium and all equipment and related costs are being paid for with private donations (as you claim), I wonder why the team needs to be associated with the University at all?

  6. My point was that in the context of reality where Cal football is widely popular, they deserve a safe venue rather than one at risk of collapse. I’m not interested in debating about taking away activities vast numbers of people enjoy and disbanding teams with widespread support. But if you are into that, I’m sure the Prohibitionist movement can offer you some pro-tips.

  7. Why do you think they “deserve” it? It’s not as though there aren’t professional football teams in the Bay Area that football fans could go watch to get their fix.

  8. A slower pace of construction wouldn’t reduce the sum of impacts, it would just spread them out over more time. It would also raise costs and potentially push the work into another football season, which would extend impacts on local businesses and neighbors.

    I am UC grad, but that has nothing to do with my position on the stadium or on football. (I have only once begrudgingly attended a football game and that was in high school.) For the two years I lived in on campus housing, there was construction outside of my window. Of course I would have preferred it not be there, but I knew it needed to be done. If it’s not the construction people complain about, it’s the pace of the construction; if it’s not that, it’s the reason for the construction. It seems that people have lost the abilities to grin and bear it and to tolerate that with which they don’t 100% agree.

    I don’t care for football, and it seems you don’t either, but there are at least several hundred thousand out there who do. They deserve a safe stadium, as do the many other students and staff who will use the building every day. Retrofitting the stadium is largely separate from questions of pay–questions which apply just as much to the regents and UC administration. I don’t think academics vs athletics is the argument we should be having–they have coexisted quite peacefully for over a century. If you really want to reduce tuition and improve the UC, campaign for the repeal of Prop 13. You’ll probably have more luck doing that than at trying to take people’s football away.

  9. Please visit http://www.calesp.com for more information about this privately funded stadium upgrade. I’ll drink a beer for you at the first game back in berkeley in 2012, thanks for your continuing support.

  10. I’m thinking your thinking is right.

    And I would also cut sports teams from all UC schools.
    I don’t care where the funding comes from. These are public institutions paid for by taxpayers (and increasingly outrageous tuition fees). Let the private schools support sports teams if they want to, but public schools should be institutions for learning, not watching athletes give themselves brain damage for entertainment.

  11. I think if we’re being sticklers for numbers you might want to try to get some evidence of what Stanford’s stadium *actually* cost. And also find out the total duration of its construction….”frenzied” indeed, I’m told. Also, I always think it would be nice if Cal would spend some of its construction dollars in Parlier, or Watsonville, but no Berkeley gets the annoyance, and all the benefit, and thankfully someone to blame for crappy roadways!

  12. False syllogism. I’m thinking you’re a UC grad or student. The beef was the pace of construction which is a bit frenzied. The dump truck traffic downtown is excessive and menacing. The noise levels are unnecessarily high.

    But rebuilding and doing nothing are not the only choices. The stadium could and should be torn down and the space used for academic purposes. Cal diminishes itself with the unseemly emphasis on football, a sport they have not been particularly successful at for many years. The money and effort dedicated to football is more suited to some redneck southern school or USC. And please spare me the sanctimonious speeches about how much it brings in without some hard numbers to back that up.

    While it’s probably true that all or at least most of the money for the project comes from private funding, I’d like to know a few things: (1) How much was contributions and how much loans? If any was in the form of loans or investments what rate of return is involved and who pays if (when) this big time program falls on its ass? (2) What forms of support does the university provide out of fungible money? How much time do university administrators spend dealing with the effects of the project? (3) What provision, if any, has been made for damages to Berkeley infrastructure caused by the project?

    And don’t be surprised if the final cost is more than $321 million. I seem to recall that it was once somewhere in the neighborhood of $150 million. It’s a neat trick of the construction game, keep revising the estimate and at the end crow loudly that it was brought in “on budget!” These guys are mostly Republicans you know.

    Last shot: Stanford build a magnificent stadium for about $100 mill and didn’t have to play any games at a baseball park.

  13. While we’re at it, let’s not retrofit any other buildings anywhere because construction work has negative impacts. When they collapse in the inevitable quake, let’s not rebuild them because the construction would have negative impacts. Actually, we shouldn’t even clear the debris because that would have negative impacts. [End sarcasm]

    Inaction has negative impacts too, but because they occur in the future they are harder to see and can be considered somebody else’s problem. Its the story of contemporary California: a cushy present paid for with a bleaker future.

  14. There has also been some considerable negative, local quality of life impact from this frenzied construction pace. Conveys of fully loaded, long bed dump trucks have been streaming up and down Hearst at the rate of at least 20/30 per hour in each direction (never seen anything like it in Berkeley). Take a look at how broken up the pavement has become on Hearst next to the Uni. As UCB famously pays few direct taxes to the city, guess who will need to pay to resurface these streets someday? In the meantime, for many years, they will probably remain cratered, pitted and cracked, posing a hazard to the many students and community members who bicycle on the periphery of the campus.

    The Daily Cal, to its credit, did touch on some of the disruption, acute noise and air pollution afflicting nearby student housing from this stadium construction, airing complaints of various students. But, as others here have already aptly noted, it’s football uber alles, making a further travesty of what should be the university’s true educational mission.

  15. I’m no football booster–I was bribed to attend one and only one game in high school–but this argument represents a false choice and a red herring. The choice was not between doing the retrofit or transferring $321 million from an abandoned Memorial stadium to tuition.

  16. While I agree that his salary is mind-boggling, it’s always important to recall that no state funds pay his salary.

  17. 321 million dollars for the meat heads to play ball? UC Berkeley has lost any claim to status as regards honesty
    in raising tuition. But when the highest salary in the UC system is the UCB football coach it figures.