UC Berkeley News
Web Feature

UC Berkeley Web Feature

History of Memorial Stadium

– California Memorial Stadium was named for and is dedicated to Californians, both those who had attended the university and others from across the state who gave their lives in the "War of Nations," now referred to as World War I.

At the time, the university's athletics program was run by the Associated Students of the University of California. To finance the original stadium construction, a subscription drive was launched. Alumni, faculty, students and fans responded immediately. For each $100 donated, the subscriber received scrip that could be used to buy two Big Game tickets at $5 each for the next 10 years. In almost no time, the first $800,000 was raised.

The total construction cost was just over $1 million. University of California Comptroller Robert Gordon Sproul (who in 1930 would ascend to the UC presidency) noted at the time that this fund-raising effort made it possible to build the stadium "without the expenditure of one cent of University funds or state appropriations. ..."

Construction for Memorial Stadium started in December 1922 and was completed in November 1923, in time for the Big Game. The game drew 73,000 fans and is reported to have been the largest crowd to that day to witness a football game in the West. Cal won the game 9-0.

On the day of its dedication, Sproul declared: "Deep rooted in the eternal hills, this memorial to the honored dead, here devoted to the service of the living, raises its noble crown into the clear California sky and stands in simple dignity, beauty and strength."