UC Berkeley is nearly ready to firm up the shakiest stadium around. The university this year will begin preparing 87-year-old Memorial Stadium, which straddles the dangerous Hayward fault, for a $320 million renovation that is expected to make the football venue much safer. The upgrade is scheduled to be finished in time for the 2012 football season. University of California regents last week handed the Berkeley campus its final approval to go ahead with the project, completing years of planning.
"I'm just so excited because it's just one more step to be able to know that it's going to be a reality," said Cal football coach Jeff Tedford, whose team will play home games at either Candlestick Park, AT&T Park or the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in 2011. "It's a big piece of the puzzle that's been missing for a while," he said. "It's very exciting to know that it's for real." The school will use a scheme with roots in the NFL to finance the project. The university will borrow the $320 million and pay it back over 30 years with the help of seat licenses, which fans buy for life and pay off annually. The money raised by the licenses, a concept used by the National Football League, would collect interest in an endowment. Those profits — which university officials hope will outpace interest on the borrowed money — would pay off the loan if all goes as planned.