California Memorial Stadium
For nearly two years, thousands of construction workers, project managers, architects and engineers toiled tirelessly to bring the building up to modern standards and create a seismically safe environment able to host Cal football games and other events for many years to come. The result is a state-of-the-art venue that meets the needs of ticket-holders, players, coaches, broadcasters and just about anyone else paying a visit to Strawberry Canyon.
The stadium has been enhanced by many additional aspects, as well, including the Lisa and Douglas Goldman Plaza - a nearly two-acre park-like gathering place atop the adjacent Simpson Center for Student-Athlete High Performance, the Haas Grand Staircase on the north end of the facility, the Bob and Anne Gattis Terrace, the Woolsey-Isaac Staircase near the International House and the Peter E. Haas Press Box.
Memorial Stadium now features nearly 300,000 square feet of program space and eight levels on the west side serviced by five elevators - from the new Hall of Fame Room and Field Club on the first floor, through the concourse, Stadium Club, press box and University Club at the top.
Overall, the retrofit and renovation, which cost $321 million, impacted about 60 percent of the stadium, primarily on the west side where the structure was above the ground and needed to be improved to meet modern seismic standards. Capacity for the facility now stands at 63,186.
Memorial Stadium Renovation Project Team
- Architects: HNTB Architecture and STUDIOS Architecture
- Structural Engineer: Forell/Elsesser, Inc.
- General Contractor: Webcor Builders
- Project Management: UC Berkeley Capital Projects
|More on Memorial Stadium|
|Memorial Stadium Facts at a Glance|
|Memorial Stadium Video Tour|
|Fans Placed First at Memorial Stadium|
|Peanuts! Popcorn! Portabella?|
|Goldmans Donate $10 Million to Cal Athletics|
- Modernized fan amenities, including wider concourses and additional restrooms and concession areas on the west side
- New wheelchair seating with better accessibility and access around the stadium
- Restoration of the historic façade, including repairing damaged concrete and application of a new finish to match the original 1923 appearance
- Modernized public address and lighting system
- Restored flagpoles atop the stadium rim
- State-of-the art scoreboards with enhanced video and graphics capabilities within the existing structures at the north and south ends of the stadium
- Endowment Seating Program area (approximately 3,000 seats) that includes chair-back seating and access to three club levels (Field Club, Stadium Club and University Club)
- Benches with backs and additional legroom in sections from the goal line to the 30-yard line on the west side
- Old wooden seating replaced with aluminum bleachers throughout the stadium
- Playing surface lowered approximately four feet to improve sightlines for fans seated in lower rows
Original Memorial Stadium
The setting of Memorial Stadium remains one of the most breathtaking sights in all of college athletics. The plush wall of pine trees in the Berkeley Hills to the east is contrasted by a panoramic view of the San Francisco Bay and three bridges to the west. Initially designed by world-renowned architect John Galen Howard and co-designers G.F. Buckingham and E.E. Carpenter, the stadium is a tribute to their architectural talents, skills that were years ahead of their time. Fans who attend games today still marvel at the beauty of the structure, modeled after the Coliseum in Rome, and comment about the easy viewing for spectators from all angles within the stadium.
The stadium was completed in time for the Big Game of 1923 at a total cost of $1,437,982. It was constructed in sections with expansion joints to withstand earth movement. Included in the initial construction were 12,000 barrels of cement, 1.1 million feet of lumber for concrete forms, 8,000 cubic yards of rock, 4,000 cubic yards of sand, 600 tons of steel, 800,000 feet of premium lumber which was used for seating, and 2,500 pine trees which today serve as the backdrop for the stadium.
Original plans for the stadium called for a capacity of 60,000, but they were altered in favor of a capacity closer to 80,000. The seating capacity fluctuated due to renovation and other changes, but in 1947, a crowd of 83,000 watched Cal defeat Navy, 14-7, a feat which may have prompted Cal officials to establish an official capacity for the stadium. In the 1960s, temporary bleachers on the east side were removed and added wheelchair seating and aluminum bleachers followed in the 1980s.
Overall, Cal football teams through the years have played before crowds of 70,000 or more on 56 occasions and there have been 21 games that attracted in excess of 80,000 spectators.
The advent of the Cal Sports 80s project, an $8 million fund-raising campaign earmarked for the renovation of athletic facilities at Cal, further enhanced the appearance of Memorial Stadium. The most visible renovation came in 1981 when a new synthetic turf replaced the natural grass field to facilitate a stadium that could be utilized for practices as well as games when Cal's other practice facilities on campus became unavailable. New training quarters, locker rooms and a weight room replaced outdated facilities, and a new stadium administrative complex was also constructed in late 1983.
An expansion of the weight room and training facilities was completed in 1991, while a team meeting room expansion was completed in time for the start of the '94 season. Prior to the 1995 season, natural grass made a return to the stadium after 14 years of artificial turf, while eight years later, a new generation of synthetic turf was installed prior to the 2003 season.
Major construction to renovate Memorial Stadium began in December 2010, and Cal played is 2011 football season at AT&T Park in San Francisco. The Golden Bears' first game back in the updated facility was on Sept. 1, 2012, against Nevada.
Within the north tunnel where the Golden Bears enter and exit the field, are two inscriptions noting the purpose of Memorial Stadium. When the building first opened in 1923, it was dedicated "in memory of Californians who gave their lives in the World War 1914-1918." Then on Oct. 6, 2012, the facility was rededicated "in memory of all Californians who have sacrificed their lives in service to our nation."