I know it's been awhile since I've posted, but I thought this was interesting enough to post. I am "stealing" these words verbatim from Steve Harris '93 who attended a presentation about the new Endowment Seating Program (ESP):
Ø The playing surface at Memorial will be lowered three feet to improve existing sightlines.
Ø To accommodate the 3,000 renovated seats, Memorial’s capacity will be reduced to about 63,200 people (Cal’s home attendance has been in the 62,000 range recently).
Ø The current plan involves Cal playing at Memorial for 2009 and 2010, but NOT 2011. The current hope is to host games at the Oakland Coliseum in 2011, but a deal is not in place yet… I sense Candlestick Park would be the backup plan, if an imperfect one, and I don’t sense that AT&T Park is a possibility at all. It’s going to cost a lot of money to rent out whatever place Cal’s going to need to rent out and we don’t have leverage.
Ø Evidently the City of Berkeley has informally said that it will not participate in a lawsuit about the Memorial Stadium renovation, which would mean that the Panoramic Hill Association (or whomever else) would have to post a bond to file such a lawsuit. Approval from the UC Regents should come this year and any lawsuit would need to be filed shortly thereafter.
Ø TIMELINES: the current working date for the opening of the Student-Athlete High Performance Center is Spring 2011. The current working date of the renovation of Memorial is to start in 2011 and that it will take one year. This appears to be an aggressive, optimistic timeframe for such a renovation. Then again, if the SAHPC exists in 2011 and there’s sufficient momentum on the Memorial renovation that it’ll take another 6-12 months to finish, who’s going to care?
Ø Timelines and lawsuits: this time Cal is prepared. The timeline of any lawsuit will fit neatly within the time period for the SAHPC to be finished. So if there is a lawsuit and it takes 1 or even 2 years to resolve, Cal’s timeframe to renovate Memorial isn’t affected at all.
Ø What’s the problem, then? IF there is a lawsuit, it’s going to be about the amount of money Cal can spend on the renovation. Under current law, the amount of money one can spend to renovate a stadium is capped at half of its value. The law isn’t clear about which is the best method to use in obtaining such a valuation. The endgame is this: the Panoramic Hill people would argue that Memorial sits on the Hayward Fault and it’s been crumbling for 75 years and it’s worthless, so Cal can’t spend any money on renovation. Cal of course says this is the greatest place on earth to watch a football game and it’s worth $600 million, so $300 million can be spent to renovate, and what do you know, the project is set at $300 million. Due to the lack of clear case law on the valuation issue, it’s in Cal’s best interest to smooth any ruffled feathers and avoid litigation. Hopefully everyone’s so exhausted (emotionally and financially) from the last go-round that nobody’s interested in seeing a courtroom again.
Ø How does Cal pay for all this? The 3,000 seats in the ESP program are expected to raise enough money to finance the renovation and all 27 sports in Cal Athletics going forward. What if the economy’s terrible enough that 3,000 people don’t buy in? Here’s the rub: it’s not 3,000 people that need to buy in… it’s realistically about 1,200, since most people will buy 2-3 seats in the program. They’re at 25% capacity now and really need to sell about 90% of capacity by the time the stadium renovation is complete (i.e., 2012 or 2013), NOT this summer, when the letter of intent period ends. So the bottom line is that Cal needs 1,000 – 1,200 new accounts to be initiated in the next three years for this project to work. Will it work? We’ll see!