UC Berkeley Web Feature
Campus provides updates on Memorial Stadium Project and Student-Athlete High Performance Center
To The Campus Community:
With the football season about to begin, we want to update you about developments surrounding the Memorial Stadium project and the new Student-Athlete High Performance Center. A trial date has been set for September 19 to resolve the litigation brought by the City of Berkeley and a neighborhood group regarding the project.
The origin of this project is the need to modernize and seismically retrofit one of the great cultural icons of the city and the campus -- California Memorial Stadium -- which is an important source of tax revenue and business activity for the surrounding community.
At the same time we want to address the medical and training needs of approximately 350 student athletes who are squeezed into unsafe and insufficient facilities under the stands … space that was originally designed to accommodate one quarter of that number. We cannot begin to retrofit the stadium until we have a safe facility for the student-athletes and staff who currently train and work in the stadium. Cal currently ranks last in the Pac-10 in terms of medical and training space allocated to student athletes. They deserve better.
Student-athletes from 13 different teams -- seven women's and six men's -- will use the new facility. While media coverage focuses on football, little has been said about the difference the new center will make for other teams like women's field hockey, softball, lacrosse, and soccer that train and play on fields adjacent to the stadium. Without locker rooms of their own, many of the women on these teams must change clothes in their cars to prepare for games and practice. The student-athlete center will support gender equity and ensure that all Cal teams -- men's and women's -- have safe and suitable facilities.
As we move forward with these projects, we have made significant progress in responding to the concerns of the City and our neighbors. The stadium retrofit will actually reduce seating capacity and, by extension, game day impacts on the surrounding community. We have changed our original plans for new sound and lighting systems in response to neighborhood concerns and we have agreed to severely limit the number of non-football events at the stadium.
In response to the City's concerns, we have offered to dramatically reduce the size of a potential parking garage under Maxwell Field, merely to replace the spaces that will be lost as the result of the construction in the southeast quadrant of the campus.
The City also insisted that we conduct additional seismic testing on the site of the new Student Athlete High Performance Center. In response, an independent geological firm was hired. New cores were drilled and new trenches were dug, in addition to the ones we had done as part of our original study. The additional testing proved beyond any reasonable doubt that there are no active fault lines under the site. Recently those findings were reviewed and certified by the country's leading seismic authority, the United States Geological Survey. Moreover, seismologists and engineers know from studies of past earthquakes that the level of ground shaking is approximately the same right next to a fault as it is anywhere else within two miles of the fault.
Finally, the trees we need to remove to make room for the Student Athlete High Performance Center are not part of an ancient grove; the University planted all but three or four of them when the stadium was built in 1923. Around the new facility we will be planting two saplings and one large, nursery-grown specimen tree for every specimen tree removed. The entire lower grove along Piedmont Avenue will remain, and when the project is complete there will be more trees on the site than there are today. We evaluated a large number of alternative sites for the new center and found the area along the stadium's western edge to be the only one that met the academic and athletic needs of our program.
This morning a temporary barrier was placed around the trees that are currently occupied by protesters. Based on the UC Police Department's analysis and recommendations we decided that this would be a necessary and prudent step to ensure the safety of game-day fans and the protesters. We must emphasize that this is not in any way part of an effort to forcibly remove protesters from the grove. We have reluctantly accepted their unauthorized presence since last December, and while we will continue to evaluate that policy of tolerance we expect it to continue until the lawsuits are resolved.
We are eager to move forward with this important project, which will enhance the life safety of students, staff, and visitors and provide high-quality training and medical facilities for our student-athletes. You can find detailed drawings of the proposed Student Athlete High Performance Center, as well as information about design and safety issues, lighting, and more, on The Campaign for Student-Athletes website.
George W. Breslauer,
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost