Committee approves project elements to stadium construction

Levy Yun/Staff
A committee recently approved project elements to the Memorial Stadium construction.

The Committee on Grounds and Buildings approved project elements to the construction of the California Memorial Stadium, including the implementation of occasional Friday night games — which is already drawing concern from community groups — at the UC Board of Regents meeting Tuesday.

The committee agreed to accept a Subsequent Environmental Impact Report for the stadium, which covers two previously rescinded items: the use of simulated crowd noise at Witter Field — the temporary football practice location, which is subject to detailed restrictions — and the construction, use and occupancy of the Athletic Service Center, which will control ticket sales and serve as a loading zone at the stadium.

The report also includes two new sections, the first being the scheduling of two Friday night football games over the course of four seasons, with the possibility of an additional Friday night championship game under unique circumstances. The second addition is the permanent improvement and intensified use of Witter Field by intercollegiate athletics and recreational sports programs following the completion of the project.

The report was produced after a November 2010 ruling on a lawsuit — filed by Stand Up for Berkeley! and the Council of Neighborhood Associations — determined that UC Berkeley had improperly used a January 2010 addendum to detail the addition of the center and simulated crowd noise to the project.

The court ruled that the addendum did not comply with the California Environmental Quality Act because the university made major changes to the design plan that were not included in the initial 2006 Environmental Impact Report. At the May Regents meeting, the committee decided to rescind two parts of the design approval in response to the court order.

In addition to the 2010 lawsuit, community members have expressed frustration with elements of the construction, including noise control and air pollution. Jacquelyn McCormick, a board member of the Claremont Elmwood Neighborhood Association, said the approval of Friday night games will create more problems with residents commuting back to Berkeley on Friday nights.

McCormick said that the association “finds it hard to accept the findings” of the report and hopes that in scheduling Friday night games, the university will instead choose to use alternative locations, such as AT&T Park or the Oakland Coliseum.

Campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof said the university has had two public hearings regarding construction and the report and will continue to engage in discussions with community members regarding the construction.

“As we go forward, we’re going to keep those channels of communication open and do our best to address those concerns,” he said. “We want to be good neighbors in the community and to continue to work with their concerns and see if we can mitigate whatever needs to be mitigated.”