California Memorial Stadium will rent to new tenants to help offset debt

Memorial Stadium will soon increase opportunities to rent its facilities for varied corporate events, celebrations and meetings.
Michael Drummond/Senior Staff
Memorial Stadium will soon increase opportunities to rent its facilities for varied corporate events, celebrations and meetings.

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As part of its goal to diversify revenue, UC Berkeley’s California Memorial Stadium will soon begin renting to new tenants and expanding events to include weddings.

On Wednesday evening, Memorial Stadium showcased multiple venues in an open house, which drew about 200 guests. Broadcasting the stadium’s potential — with raffles, live music and sample catering — is the latest iteration of a plan to transform the stadium into a multi-use facility to offset a debt left by renovations to the stadium, completed in 2012.

These renovations to Memorial Stadium and the Simpson Center, where Cal athletes train and study, have left a debt of about $445 million. The current annual debt obligation is $18.1 million per year until 2032, which several revenue sources will help finance. In 2012, Intercollegiate Athletics immediately developed new revenue sources after finding that revenue from Endowment Seating Program sales and returns on investments had not kept pace with original projections.
In the 2013 fiscal year revenue totaled $16.4 million, of which $5.2 million was generated from donors, premium seats and event marketing revenue. As of June 2013, the Fund Functioning as an Endowment balance was more than $2 million above the base-case expected value in the current financial plan model. New numbers will not be released until the end of the current fiscal year.

Since the end of fiscal year 2013, Memorial Stadium welcomed new rental opportunities, which included the Berkeley-Haas Innovation Lab and a recreational sports fitness location open to Recreational Sports Facility members.

The UC Berkeley Visitor Services staff, the Goldman School of Public Policy’s development and public affairs staff and its executive education program and some doctoral students are the next to move in.

“This will increase activity on the east side of campus and kind of tie the stadium closer to campus activities,” said Christine Shaff, communications director for the campus real estate division. “There will be students who get to use (the stadium) as part of their learning.”

In addition to new tenants and event rentals, a 15-year, $18-million naming rights deal was made with the Bay Area-based video game company Kabam, which is now the name of the field in Memorial Stadium.

Ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 per four hours, the available venues to rent include the Field Club and Mezzanine, Stadium Club, University Club and Chancellor’s Box.

Memorial Stadium event coordinators have been actively promoting the event space and have hosted 120 events ranging from corporate parties to a UC Berkeley alum’s 80th birthday.

“The expanded use of the facility will energize the stadium 365 days a year instead of the seven game days a year,” said Shaff.

The first wedding, between two Cal students who won a package deal in an RSF holiday auction, is planned for May 31.

Typical wedding packages open to the public are priced around $15,000, which includes the space and food and accommodates about 100 people, according to Patrice Thomas, Cal Dining brand strategy and marketing manager.

“Memorial Stadium is the best-kept secret in the East Bay at a reasonable price,” said Elisa Smith, associate director of communications for student affairs.

Contact Taryn Smith at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @tarynshelby.

Clarification(s):
A previous version of this article may have implied that Cal Athletics has missed debt payments. In fact, a debt payment has never been missed.

A previous version of this article may have also implied that Cal Athletics was behind, or not fulfilling its debt obligation. In fact, Cal Athletics is $2 million ahead of the current financial plan model. As confirmed by independent review, there are already adequate resources to cover debt payments.