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UC Berkeley Press Release

Frequently asked questions on plans for the California Memorial Stadium project

– UC Berkeley's master plan for California Memorial Stadium begins with construction of the new Student-Athlete High Performance Center (SAHPC).

Q: What is the connection between the new student-athlete center and plans to modernize Memorial Stadium?
A. Before work can commence on improving and seismically strengthening the stadium, UC Berkeley must first begin building a facility to house the 450 student-athletes, coaches and support staff who currently train and work in dangerous, sub-standard conditions under the stadium's stands.

The critical need for adequate, seismically safe space will also allow the university to provide its student-athletes with facilities that are on par with those of its peers. In the Pac-10, Cal now ranks last in space available to its athletics program for training and sports medicine. The student-athlete center will bring UC Berkeley within reach of the conference average in these areas.

Q: Besides the football team, which Cal athletes will benefit from the center?
A. The new facility will be used by more than 400 student-athletes from 13 different teams: football, field hockey, men's golf, women's golf, men's gymnastics, women's gymnastics, men's crew, women's crew, lacrosse, softball, men's soccer, women's soccer, and rugby. While public attention has focused on football, the new center will be a tremendous improvement for other teams that train and play on fields adjacent to the stadium. Without locker rooms of their own, many of the women on these teams currently 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 have safe, adequate facilities.

Q: What is the current cost estimate for construction of the SAHPC? What portion of the new cost estimate is the result of the delay caused by the litigation?
A. Over the course of the litigation the university has continued with pre-construction planning and preparation. That work resulted in a new estimate of construction costs for the SAHPC of approximately $112 million if work had started in late 2006, as originally planned. Now, due to the delay caused by the litigation, our experts estimate that the costs of construction have gone up by approximately $11 million and will continue to rise by more than $700,000 for each month of additional delay. However, given the complexity of the project and the unpredictable effects of a softening economy, it is impossible to provide absolutely solid numbers until the entire project goes out for bid.

Q: How long will it take before the new facility is completed?
A. Once construction work begins it will take 2½ to 3 years to complete the new building.

Q: Will taxpayer money be used to construct the student-athlete center?
A. No public money will be used. The project is being funded by donors and ticket surcharges.

Q: How much money has been raised to date, and how much more is needed in order to begin construction?
A. The campus has raised $105 million to date, an amount that is more than sufficient to begin construction. The university is confident that further fundraising will provide all of the resources necessary to complete the project.

Q: Is the proposed location of the student-athlete center safe? Isn't it right on top of the Hayward Fault?
A. Adjacent to Memorial Stadium, the site is near but not on the Hayward Fault. That essential fact was determined by extensive geotechnical testing in and around the building site. To be absolutely certain, the test results were examined by the Campus Seismic Review Committee and subjected to peer review by independent geotechnical experts. In addition, all of the data was provided to the United States Geological Survey and the California Geological Survey, which conducted their own investigation and approved the findings. Each one of these separate reviews point to the same conclusion: there are no active faults under the building's footprint.

Engineers say there is a vast difference between "on" and "near" when building in the area of a fault. In the event of an earthquake along the Hayward Fault, they say, the new student-athlete center will be as safe as if it were built on Shattuck Avenue in central Berkeley — in fact, the new facility will be safer than most of the existing building stock in the city. The conclusion is clear: student-athletes and staff using the center will be in one of the safest buildings in Berkeley in the event of an earthquake.

Q: Couldn't the university find another site for the student-athlete center, one without trees that need to be removed?
A. Many locations on and around the campus were studied as possible sites; after thorough analysis it was clear that only one was capable of accommodating a building large enough to house  all 13 teams while providing the student-athletes convenient access to both academic and athletic facilities. In view of our students' rigorous schedule of classes, training, and competition, it is not fair or feasible, for example, for the women's softball or men's gymnastic teams to practice in Strawberry Canyon, travel back and forth to a distant location for training, medical, and locker-room facilities, and get back to campus on time for class. 

Only four trees on the student-athlete center site predate the stadium's construction. The rest were planted by the campus for a 1923 landscaping project, and are not part of an "ancient" grove. Among the existing trees, 70 are deemed to be "specimen" trees — that is, significant for such reasons as aesthetic, historic, and educational value. Of these specimen trees, 27 will be preserved and one will be transplanted. The university is not clearcutting the grove; the trees adjacent to Piedmont Avenue will be preserved, and we will be planting three new trees — two saplings and one mature tree — for every one of the 42 specimen trees that will be removed. When the project is complete there will be more trees in that part of the campus than there are today.

Q: What about the claim that the oak grove is the site of a Native American burial ground?
A. There is currently no verifiable evidence to support that claim. However, prior to the start of construction the university will, through the services of an independent archeological consulting firm, conduct extensive archeological testing and inspection. If the initial results are negative we will continue to monitor the site during the ground-disturbing phase of construction. If we do find evidence of intact cultural deposits we will abide by all of the laws and regulations that govern their care and disposition. If those deposits include human remains that are determined to be of Native American origin, a site monitor will be assigned by the Native American Heritage Commission to insure they are handled with appropriate care and dignity, and in accordance with the law.

Q: Besides trespassing, what laws and ordinances have been violated by people involved with the tree-sit protest?
A. The protestors have violated time, place, and manner rules regarding when and where demonstrations may occur on university property and have engaged in numerous forms of misconduct, including weapons-possession violations, robbery, theft, vandalism, assault, battery, battery to a peace officer, assault with a deadly weapon to a peace officer, violation of probation, violation of a campus exclusion order, violation of a court order, threats against a peace officer, resisting arrest, drug-possession violations, disturbing the peace, unlawful topping of trees, and public intoxication. As of June 13, 2008, the UC Police Department has recorded more than 286 violations; 92 resulted in custodial arrests of protestors, and another 63 citations were issued at the site. Several injuries have occurred in the grove as a result of the protestors' conduct. At least two tree-sitters have fallen and broken bones, and several officers have been injured.

Q: How much has the university spent containing and policing the protest?
A. From December 2006 to the present, the perimeter fencing, contract security guards, and additional lighting have cost the university approximately $375,000. However, funds for these expenses are drawn from a law-enforcement contingency fund; no monies were used that would have otherwise been available for teaching, research, or student services.

Q: How has UC Berkeley responded to the concerns of its neighbors and the city of Berkeley?
Several changes have been made in plans for the area in response to community concerns. The university has

  • Agreed to actively explore construction and financing options that would greatly accelerate commencement of the project's second phase: modernizing and retro-fitting California Memorial Stadium.
  • Enhanced landscaping on the new plaza along the stadium's western edge to include lawn and additional trees.
  • Offered to deed a strip of land to the city for the purpose of widening Canyon Road.
  • Conducted additional geologic testing to confirm there are no active faults beneath the student-athlete center site. 
  • Lowered the height of the student-athlete center to maintain the maximum view of the stadium from Piedmont Avenue.
  • Offered to significantly reduce the number of spaces in the proposed parking facility just north of the stadium.
  • Designed new lighting and audio systems to minimize impact outside of the stadium.
  • Agreed to limit the number of non-football events held in the stadium to no more than seven per year, and promised that the venue will not be used for events such as rock concerts that would require additional sound amplification

In addition, the renovated stadium will have thousands fewer seats than the stadium does today. This will improve the comfort of fans, and will also reduce game-day traffic and disruption for Berkeley residents.