7/4/2013 update. Berdahl endorses expensive football stadium renovations

7/14/2013 update: The $140M UC-Berkeley stadium upgrade that Bob Berdahl approved as Berkeley’s chancellor back in 2004 has now ballooned to $321M, and it’s looking like it will be a long term drain on the academic budget. The SF Chronicle has the story:

Taking a grimmer view is Roger Noll, an emeritus professor (of economics) at Stanford and an expert in stadium financing.
He pointed to less ambitious efforts to finance new stadiums in Michigan and Texas, which aren’t going well.
“If Texas can’t raise the money, how the hell do you think Cal can?” Noll said with a rueful laugh.
“I hope they succeed, but the chances are not very high,” he said. “My guess is the incremental revenue from the stadium is not going to be even close to paying off the structural deficit.”

Here at UO, no word yet from President Gottfredson on the Senate resolution that passed two month ago, asking him to end the subsidies for the Knight Arena. We did end a $555K annual subsidy for athletics overhead – but VPFA Jamie Moffitt won’t answer questions about why she didn’t make it retroactive. Nothing to do with her bowl game junkets, I’m sure.


From the Cal Athletic department website, Jan. 7, 2004

BERKELEY, CALIF.- University of California, Berkeley Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl announced today that he will endorse an ambitious plan to renovate Memorial Stadium, the campus’ 81-year-old football venue. The project, which could cost as much as 140 million dollars, will be funded entirely by private donations. Upon completion, it will have to ensure that it complies with title 24 as California tries to reduce energy consumption.

And yesterday, April 17, 2012 in the WSJ, from no less than Rachel Bachman:

As state legislators shrink its appropriations, it’s hard enough for the University of California-Berkeley to maintain the nation’s highest academic ranking among public colleges. But there now looms a financial threat from another, somewhat unlikely quarter: the university’s football program.

Until now, the years-old effort to renovate the school’s football stadium, which sits on an earthquake fault line, never raised many alarms. Although its $321 million price tag would make it one of the most expensive renovations in college sports history, the university said the project would be funded privately, largely through long-term seat sales and naming rights.

But three years into the fund-raising effort, a projected $270 million from the sale of seats has failed to materialize. At the end of December, the school had collected only $31 million in the first three years of the sale. Now it has become clear that the university will have to borrow the vast majority of the money.

In recent interviews, university officials acknowledge that if revenue projections fall short and won’t cover the bond payments, the shortfall “would have to come from campus.”

So, are you wondering if Bob Berdahl, now interim UO president, is playing along with AD Rob Mullens’s plans to expand Autzen? Do you think maybe the UO Senate and its Inter-collegiate Athletic Committee should be kept in the loop on something like this?

Too bad. Berdahl has made it very clear what he thinks – this sort of thing should be worked out between the President and the Athletic Director, with no faculty oversight. Because that worked out so well at Berkeley?

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16 Responses to 7/4/2013 update. Berdahl endorses expensive football stadium renovations

  1. Anonymous says:

    Berkeley. What were the options? Memorial Stadium was deemed “unsafe” in 1997, it had to be renovated. Actually, it was the next Chancellor Robert Birgeneau who chose among competing renovation proposals in 2004.

    Eugene. Berdahl wrote: <>

    I have to agree with him! Don’t you, UO Matters?

    • UO Matters says:

      Birgenau? The official 2004 press release says “Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl announced today that he will endorse …”

    • Anonymous says:

      UO Matters. Check this out: http://berkeley.edu/news/features/stadium/timeline.shtml

      January 2004 Chancellor Robert Berdahl announces plan to renovate 81-year-old Memorial Stadium, enhance facilities for student-athletes.

      Fall 2004 Chancellor Robert Birgeneau establishes 30-member Memorial Stadium Advisory Committee to decide among three competing proposals for the southeast quadrant of the campus.

    • UO Matters says:

      So let’s hope that’s not the same thing that happens here: Berdahl sets it up, then leaves it to the new guy to fill in the details and squeeze the cash out of the academic side. But we’ll probably never know, because Berdahl doesn’t think it’s the faculty’s business.

    • Anonymous says:

      Berdahl does have more urgent business right now than restructuring IAC…

      But we’ll know everything about his shortcomings. We’ve got YOU. :))

    • UO Matters says:

      Read the emails on the Senate page. Apparently he has plenty of time to devote to *weakening* the IAC.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Someone is really losing touch with reality. Last time I looked, Berkeley had more Sloan Fellows in the past dozen years than any other American university — more than Harvard, Stanford, a tad more than MIT. Sounds like Berdahl must have had a pretty good run there.

    While the UO faculty with their ill-advised union, are in all probability ruining UO’s chances for big donations to academics, Berdahl is supposed to turn down private support for a possible Autzen expansion? The faculty senate and the IAC are supposed to have “oversight” authority on this? If he went along with this, he should get the same treatment as the last UO president.

    So Berdahl is not suitable to run UO either, huh? Pretty soon nobody will be available for the job except maybe UO Matters and the past presidents of the UO Senate — not Lorraine Davis or even Jim Bean!

  3. UO Matters says:

    I am pretty sure I have never claimed I would be a suitable president of anything. My skills are clearly on the muckraking side of things. I have and do claim that muckraking is essential to the proper function of any institution.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Here’s a link on the UC Berkeley fundraising effort that ended successfully under Berdahl in 2001, after he’d been there about 4 years. Some excerpts below. I especially like the part about $742 million in “ongoing support” for research and other academic-related items. This does not seem to be the work of a man who is beholden to athletic interests or uninterested in academics.


    The following amounts were raised to meet seven objectives:

    * Boosting the Chancellor’s Millennium Fund – $52.6 million will provide unrestricted gifts, to be used at the chancellor’s discretion, for freshman seminars, fellowships, library acquisitions, undergraduate job programs, emergency grants and loans for students, and the Berkeley Pledge.

    * Maintaining academic excellence – $181.5 million will fund 68 faculty chairs, 50 Distinguished Professorships and 501 graduate fellowships.

    * Ensuring educational opportunity – $116.1 million will provide 928 undergraduate scholarships and expand K-12 outreach in California.

    * Improving undergraduate life – $57.4 million made possible the new Walter A. Haas Jr. Pavilion sports complex, which includes classroom and laboratory space, and enabled the campus to expand the number of initiatives designed to encourage undergraduates to conduct research.

    * Ensuring preeminence in the arts, humanities and social sciences – $72 million will fund library collections, performance and library facilities for the music department, and endowments. Among the beneficiaries are the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive and a longtime archaeological research project in Nemea, Greece.

    * Ensuring preeminence in the sciences and engineering – $160.7 million funds research to create new materials with industrial, medical and environmental applications, the Wills Neuroscience Center, endowments in science and engineering, and funding for bioengineering and the biomedical sciences.

    * Providing ongoing support – $747.2 million will provide faculty research funds as well as support for school, college and department projects. Some of the featured projects involve UC Berkeley museums and Cal Performances.

    In addition to these amounts, $56.8 million has not yet been designated to any of the above priorities.

    • Anonymous says:

      Impressive. And all done, somehow, while Cal had a lousy football team and a crappy stadium. Hmmm.

  5. The Truth says:

    Has any major athletics capital construction project ever come in under the initial projected budget?

    • UO Matters says:

      Knight Arena, sort of. It was originally budgeted for $100M, all to be paid for by Phil Knight. Then Howard Slusher and/or Pat Kilkenny figured how to convince Dave Frohnmayer to go for $200M in state bonds, guaranteed with UO tuition money. Plus another $14M or so for the land, paid directly by the students. Actual construction costs came in on budget at $200M, maybe even a little under.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The renovation of Stanford Stadium was done in nine months for the projected budget of $90M.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Is Margie Paris trying to get Gottfredson to move on his reply to the Senate? If we hear nothing from him, which was my forecast at the time, what next?

    • An insider says:

      Senate President Margie Paris has Mike’s response and is expected to broadcast it toot sweet.

    • Anonymous says:

      Tout de suite? Si elle a, elle devrait le libérer.