Cal stadium's historic past and promising future

November 19, 2010 6:54:16 PM PST
Saturday's 113th big game between Cal and Stanford will be a big milestone too. It will be the last Big Game at Memorial Stadium before it undergoes a major renovation. While the work is being done, the Bears will play their home games next season where a World Series Championship team plays baseball.

The sounds of a game will soon be a distant memory at UC Berkeley's Memorial Stadium as it stands now.

"So many great things have happened here," stadium employee Bud "Dog" Turner said.

Turner has worked there for 41 years, since back in the days when the stadium looked much like it does today.

"I think it was 1972 when Steve Sweeney caught a ball in the end zone with no time left, with mud dropping off of him," he said.

Turner was there too for the play in the Big Game of 1982. Built in 1923 as a tribute to World War I soldiers, Memorial Stadium has hosted presidents and many football greats, like college hall of famer Joe Kapp, whose son will is on the current squad.

We found Kapp getting ready for the big game at his barber's in San Jose.

"Memorial Stadium is just a holy, holy place for thousands, if not millions of people that support the Golden Bears," he said.

But now, the stadium originally built for $1.4 million and one that sits on the Hayward Fault is getting a $321 million.

"It's really about two-thirds of the stadium will get basically replaced with a new concrete and steel structure. But we don't plan on changing the minor imperfections in the stadium wall," Assistant athletic director Bob Milano Jr. said.

When the work is completed, on the outside the stadium will look pretty much like it does now. But on the inside, things will be much different, like the field will be four feet lower to give people in the front rows better viewing.

One thing that won't be repaired is the four-inch gap underneath seat 22, row 75, section kk. It is a product of earth movement and it will perhaps serve as a reminder of this stadium rich history, and an opening for all the new memories yet to come.


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