More improvements of Memorial Stadium’s renovation

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Kevin Foote/Senior Staff

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Preparation to renovate Memorial Stadium had to begin even before the Cal football team’s Nov. 27, 2010 season-ending loss to Washington. Six months prior to the stadium’s closure, workers basically gutted the building so they could demolish it as soon as the season ended.

At the peak of construction, close to 400 trade workers were on site, according to Bob Milano Jr., assistant athletic director for capital planning and management. Shifts lasted 10-12 hours, and weekends were often only one day.

By putting, for instance, $200 million of concrete steel and wires and pipes in place in 20 months, workers had to average about $10 million in construction each month.

“That’s double a normal campus construction project, even a major construction project,” Milano says. “So you just have to work more hours and you have to work more people, and you have to do more things simultaneously to achieve those objectives.”

Here are some cool quirks and improvements of the renovated stadium

  • Berkeley-based Meyer Sound “invented” a sound system specifically for the stadium, according to architect Joe Diesko. Before, poles protruded from the field, throwing sound back to the spectators as well as the surrounding community. But Meyer designed a custom sound system, which is located at the back of the bowl and projects sound in, according to Milano.
  • The stadium’s restrooms, particularly for women, have been a problem for years, as not many women attended games when the stadium opened in 1923, Diesko says. As such, 356 new toilets have been installed in the renovated part of the stadium — 192 toilets for women and 164 toilets and urinals for men — more than four times as many as before, according to Milano.
  • Permanent lights now poke out from the top of the bowl, but they are as minimal as possible so as not to obstruct spectators on Tightwad Hill, Diesko says.
  • The revamped concourse, now open and airy with sunlight streaming through the entryways into the stands, is furnished with TVs and audio. There’s even a TV in the elevator.
  • While the east side of the stadium, where the student section is located, was left alone in the renovation (that side was already seismically safe), the students keep arguably the best seats in the house. Students at Stanford Stadium, for instance, are nowhere near the 50-yard line. “We’re committed to having the students at the 50-yard line, the band right next to them, the dancers and the mic men right there, front and center, as part of the event,” Milano says.

Contact Jonathan Kuperberg at [email protected]