Cal gets going on Memorial, work set for '07
Bruce Adams, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
The long-awaited renovation of Cal's Memorial Stadium is showing signs of progress, with a tentative target date set to begin construction and recent successes in fund raising.
In a conference call Monday to announce architects for the project, Tom Lollini, associate vice chancellor for facilities, said construction would "hopefully" begin after the 2006 football season. It would last about one year.
Athletic director Sandy Barbour said $40 million had been raised for the athletic department's portion of the funding -- including an anonymous gift of $25 million two months ago -- and she expected additional "leadership" donations in the next three to six months.
Beyond that, details were sketchy pending further definition of the project, being billed by the university as a new vision for the southeast quadrant of the Berkeley campus. In addition to the stadium improvements, there would be improvements at the business and law schools, which also are responsible for raising money.
HNTB Architecture, which has designed upgrades at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Ohio Stadium at Ohio State and Ross-Ade Stadium at Purdue, has been retained to do the design work on the stadium. Moore Ruble Yudell will handle the design work for the academic commons building shared by Haas School of Business and Boalt Hall.
Lollini said he expects design details by the fall.
Until the architects come up with specific plans, the university will not provide any cost estimates, although estimates for earlier concepts ran in the $180-$200 million range.
The project has been in the works since 1997, when the regents mandated seismic upgrades at the stadium, which sits on top of the Hayward Fault.
The impetus behind the project is the success of Cal's football program, with coach Jeff Tedford consistently saying the team needs improved facilities -- including better meeting, locker, conditioning and training rooms -- to remain competitive. He has escape clauses in his contract if the work isn't done.
It certainly is the major item facing Barbour, who replaced Steve Gladstone in September 2004. Her department has an annual operating deficit of between $3 million and $5 million, with increased football revenues from an improved stadium a possible way to close the gap.
She is confident more donors will step forward once the project is further defined.
"I have no doubt," she said. "We know the base is out there."
Lollini said the football team would be displaced for only one season and even hinted that work could be done while play continues at the stadium. There was no word on where the team might play if it did have to move.
Tony Gonzales, lead architect for NHTB, offered few specifics on early plans for the 82-year-old stadium, other than to note that the seating bowl would not be changed and the emphasis for fans would be on sight lines, concession stands and rest rooms.
"It's a wonderful place with a long history," Gonzales said. "We're going to be looking at capturing those elements of historical significance."
He also acknowledged the need to improve Memorial's facilities for the football team and said Tedford and his staff would be involved in planning.
In particular, Gonzales said recent projects have shown the need for adequate space for weight training facilities. Currently, football players have to lift in shifts in Memorial's weight room. Meeting space is so scarce that the offense and defense can't gather at the same time.
"Those facilities are very important in Division I athletics," he said. "They have a lot to do with recruiting and the athletes' time management."
Chancellor Robert Birgeneau announced the project in February. It also includes a new plaza area to the west of the stadium.
"It's hard to overestimate the value of the integrated approach," said Buzz Yudell, lead designer on the academic commons building, which will include the athletic department's study center.
At the time, officials said architects would be named in March. Despite the apparent delay, Lollini said that the project is "on track.