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By Tim Hunt

Great stadium rehab at Cal--the jury is out on the team

Uploaded: Sep 4, 2012

We ventured to Berkeley Saturday to celebrate the re-opening of Memorial Stadium on the Cal campus.
No comment on the game beyond: was Nevada that good or Cal really that bad? No answers likely will be forthcoming this weekend when Southern Utah visits Berkeley, but the Bears then go on the road for brutal back-to-back games against Ohio State and USC.
So, I will focus on the stadium, which—aside from some minor tweaks—is excellent. Big screens have replaced the ancient scoreboards and most the sightlines are excellent. The old bleacher boards have been retired in favor of aluminum benches and, if you pay enough, you can get a seat with a back. Same drill that Stanford used when it redid its stadium a few years ago.
The university announced a sellout and most of the stadium was full—the notable exception being the fancy seats between the 40 yard lines that officials are planning to sell seat licenses for to offset some of the $321 million in construction expenses.
The concourse around the stadium is triple the width of the prior concourse so, for the most part, it's easy to move around. The exception was halftime when the lines for the concession stands merged with people wanting to move through and the long line for the men's room. Stadium designers bragged about how many more facilities had been added for women—there were limited lines for the ladies' restrooms—but the guys line was more than 10 minutes at halftime. Perhaps, another incentive toward the fancy seats.
We took advantage of the $19.23 end zone special—celebrating when the stadium originally opened—and the seats were fine—with a huge exception. Some engineer(s) ran amok with the poles to hold the net that's raised for placements to keep the ball from going into the stands. These twin poles are so wide in diameter (they dwarf the goal posts) that they interfered with your views of the game. They're placed in line with the hash marks so they blocked the view of the center snap when the ball was between the hash marks.
Bad call by somebody that needs to fixed ASAP—or—if athletic department officials are going to maintain those gargantuan poles, then seats should be advertised as impaired viewing as it was in the old Cow Palace and other older stadium where supporting columns interfere with seeing the field.
Incidentally, we took advantage of one of those group social buys to get a bargain dinner at the Pasta Pelican (formerly the Rusty Pelican) on the water in Alameda across from Jack London Square. The late Supervisor Don Excell introduced me to that restaurant more decades ago than I care to remember. We enjoyed a fine meal (excellent fried calamari) while watching the sailboats come in from a day on the Bay.

Imagine my surprise when boarding a Southwest flight back to Oakland from Denver last month that I looked down and saw my neighbors, Beth and Mike Williams sitting there.
I had been in Colorado Springs for an exciting summer gathering by the new ECO/Fellowship of Presbyterians organizations and didn't even know the Williams were also on the road. They'd been in Illinois, dropping off their daughter, Jessica, for the fall semester.
It worked out great because I hopped a ride home with them and saved my colleagues, Pam and Mike Lung, a trip and allowed them to go directly home. Happy coincidence.