UC Berkeley News
Web Feature

UC Berkeley Web Feature

Master plan for stadium calls for new student athlete high-performance center; home games won't have to move

– University of California, Berkeley, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau today (Thursday, Nov. 10) unveiled highlights of a master plan to refurbish historic California Memorial Stadium that begins with constructing a new student athlete high-performance center and allows the football team to play all home games in the stadium during construction.

The announcement of the stadium plan was coupled with the presentation of a conceptual design for a stunning new law and business building directly across the street from the stadium. The stadium plan and the new law and business building, along with a landscape design and public open space improvements, are the key elements in a renaissance of the southeast corner of the campus.

"We have a transformation underway of the southeast quadrant of campus that will extend UC Berkeley's leadership in academics and athletics," said Birgeneau at an afternoon press conference. "Our plan is ambitious, exciting and innovative."

The announcement provided details on the comprehensive southeast quadrant plan first outlined in February. Made on the eve of Veterans' Day weekend, it also honored the history of Memorial Stadium, which opened in November 1923 and is dedicated to UC Berkeley students, alumni and other Californians who lost their lives in World War I.

The stadium, considered by many to be one of the most beautiful settings for collegiate football, was originally constructed with funds donated by alumni, faculty, students and fans. At the time, Robert Gordon Sproul, who became UC president in 1930, said that the stadium "stands in simple dignity, beauty and strength."

Birgeneau emphasized that the stadium's new master plan preserves that landmark dignity and beauty as it replaces substandard facilities inside the stadium.

The master plan provides for a phased approach that will guide construction of new athletic facilities, overall stadium improvements and seismic retrofit, as well as improved fan access and amenities, and exterior site and landscape improvements.

Construction of the first step of the stadium plan — the student athlete high-performance center — is scheduled to begin in December 2006, pending environmental review and approval by the UC Board of Regents. It is to be ready for the 2008 football season. It is estimated to cost between $100 million and $125 million.

It will support a level of athletic excellence that is consistent with UC Berkeley's academic excellence, said Birgeneau. "Our Cal student athletes, those who work with them and the loyal fans who support them deserve no less in a world-leading teaching and research university," he said.

The 132,500-square-foot, state-of-the-art strength and conditioning and sports medicine center will serve 13 of the 27 Cal intercollegiate sports, including football and 12 Olympic sports. It will include a study center and meeting spaces as well.

Located immediately outside the historic west stadium wall, the seismically secure high-performance center will allow the campus to address immediately the most compelling seismic threat at the stadium — the safety of hundreds of students, coaches and staff who daily occupy outdated facilities built under the west rim.

The low-profile, two-story student athlete high-performance center is designed to follow the contours of the ground's natural slope with the top of the building forming a pedestrian terrace.

Birgeneau said that just as with the original construction of Memorial Stadium, the rebuilding is dependent on private fundraising. "We have set a first-phase fundraising goal of $125 million," he said. "Already, several gifts, including a significant challenge gift, have taken us close to the halfway mark."

Future phases that address west grandstand improvements, seismic retrofit of the stadium in the north and south fault zones and a new press box will require additional funding, as will longer range stadium options.

Cal Athletic Director Sandy Barbour said the stadium plan "fits perfectly with our ambitions."

Barbour described the stadium master plan as "a complex and multifaceted project that works in our favor in so many ways. The overarching plan allows us to complete components as they are prioritized and funded."

With the top priority — the safety and welfare of the student athletes — addressed, she said Cal fans can also look forward to improved seating, concessions and restrooms. The Cal student section will remain in its current prominent position, and a plan for premium seating is being developed.

"The southeast quadrant projects provide professors and coaches alike with the conditions and technology to be better teachers. Any athletic director would be thrilled to help lead this project," she said.

Christopher Edley Jr., dean of the School of Law (Boalt Hall), and Richard Lyons, acting dean of the Haas School of Business, said the new law and business building will open the way to collaborative teaching and research in a variety of growing fields, such as innovation management and intellectual property.

The main purpose of the new building is to help the Haas School and Boalt Hall realize long-term strategies of enhancing their world-class teaching, research, and public service efforts. The building will also help to build new intellectual bridges between the two professional schools. The design concept will provide a physical crossroads as well.

The design calls for two mid-rise towers, one for law and one for business, linked by a striking central atrium. It has been described as a butterfly shape with the central space designed as a world-class event venue for the two schools and the wider community.

It will also include state-of-the-art classrooms and seminar rooms, one or more major auditoriums, space for innovative think tanks, faculty offices and student activity areas.

The law and business project will cost between $140 million and $160 million. Like the stadium, it will be funded from private support. The new building will be located between the current Boalt Hall and Haas School facilities.

The environmental impact review (EIR) will encompass all proposed elements of the comprehensive southeast quadrant improvement plan, including the stadium master plan, the law and business building, landscape design plans and a parking lot incorporated into the Maxwell Family Field site. The first step in the EIR process, the publishing of a notice of preparation, is scheduled for next week, and a public scoping session is planned for early December.