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?

Duck football is below the curve. Mullens’s pay is above.

Last year was the best ever for Duck football. Perfect regular season, second in the BCS. So good that AD Rob Mullens and Interim President Bob Berdahl argued that it was time to expand Autzen, and that if we did the athletic department might finally be able to follow through on its 2004 promise to start contributing towards academic scholarships:

1. The Task Force and the Athletic Department recommend a voluntary financial contribution by athletics to the Presidential Scholarship fund. This voluntary contribution will help symbolize the mutuality of the relationship between athletics and academics.

But the Ducks have not been doing so well when it comes to profits – the most recent data has them falling well below average, controlling for stadium size. In fact there are only a few AD’s doing worse. Oregon got trounced by places like Washington State, Wyoming, and Florida Atlantic – all with much smaller stadia:

The Duck’s problem is not revenue, it’s spending. So here’s hoping Mullens makes at least some effort to get his expenses under control before he tries to sell an Autzen expansion to President Gottfredson. Of course the Duck’s biggest variable costs are the salary for Mullens and his coaches. And those guys have no problem whatsoever diverting the money that should be going to fund scholarships to fill their own pockets. Rob Mullens is paid $200,000 or so more than his comparators:

Does Mike Gottfredson have the stones to rein in Rob Mullens and his buddies? UO will find out soon.

Thanks to an anonymous UO Matters contributor for the figures. Your bottle is on its way. Any defamation is the sole responsibility of UO Matters. English libel law does not apply, since this post was written under the influence of scotch.