Tuesday, March 14, 2006

It’s Time for Renovation and Rebirth

(Hi guys… I have just been killing time and was so bored that I decided to write this funny little story. Parts of it are true. Some of it is made up. I wrote it fast and it's really late so if there are errors so be it. If we lose to Tenn I am really going to be bummed. If ur bored, have a few minutes, and want to see Memorial renovated, read it.)

In recent times, the University of California at Berkeley’s football team has enjoyed unparalleled success. For the longest time the team was the laughing stock of the Pac 10, a real bottom dweller. Today, now that the team has enjoyed its recent success, many have called for the renovation of aging Memorial Stadium. First constructed in 1921 at a cost of only 1 million dollars, the stadium in its current state is severely dilapidated. Perhaps of more concern to the coaching staff and school administrators is the state of the athletic training facilities which the student athletes must condition under. In fact, Head Coach Jeff Tedford was so concerned that when his contract was renegotiated at the end of the 2004 campaign, he had escape clauses written in so that should renovations not proceed, he would be allowed to leave.
Sadly, in today’s ever-bloodthirsty venue of Division I football a school can be severally hindered in both their recruiting battles and their revenue gathering capacities without adequate facilities. There are opposing foes to the expansion and renovation of Memorial stadium. Most are city folk who have traditionally opposed any expansion of the University, regardless of merit. With California continuing to grow at breakneck pace, and with no let up in sight, renovation and expansion of the campus as a whole has become imperative to maintaining the standing of the University as a first rate educational outpost. Memorial Stadium and all of the athletic support facilities must be of at least standard class to foster a competitive environment.
Today’s most competitive division I football teams: Texas, USC, Tennessee, Ohio State, Notre Dame - all have excellent, first-rate facilities. Despite having among the worst facilities in the country the Cal football team has somehow managed to remain competitive, no doubt a testament to the renaissance led by first time head coach Jeff Tedford. In 2004, they finished the season ranked number nine in the end of season Associated Press Poll. In 2005, based largely on a shaky performance by their QB, they dropped to number 25. As we look ahead to the 2006 season, ESPN has already predicted them to be the number two team in the Pacific Ten Conference. With the official announcement of the construction of the Student Athlete High Performance Center and the Memorial Stadium Master Plan, the University has signaled its commitment to remaining competitive not only in the near future, but also for years to come.
The plan in general terms has many key upgrades that will happen in a series of stages. As laid out on the UC Berkeley website, “Construction of the first step of the stadium plan -- the student-athlete high-performance center -- is scheduled to begin in December 2006, pending environmental review and approval by the UC Board of Regents. It is to be ready for the 2008 football season. It is estimated to cost between $100 million and $125 million.”
The effects of a state of the art training facility for the student athletes cannot be minimized. In todays intense recruiting battles, often times the facilities in which the student athletes will be training play a large part in deciding which school they will choose to attend. One thing of particular interest is that all funding for the stadium will be from privately donated funds and not one tax dollar, a serious feat that not many public institutions can meet. The plan goes on to lay out future upgrades to the stadium itself, as well as seismic upgrades that are necessary to maintain the structural integrity of the stadium, which rests directly along the Hayward fault.
Having discussed the many positives of the proposed stadium renovation master plan it is only fair that we examine another side to this story, namely, the locals, who tend to shy away from any physical progression of the University of California’s most prestigious campus. Their reasons, while valid, all tend to hint at a bit of personal selfishness and a failure to heed the calls of expansion that are necessary to maintain the University of California’s standing as a world leader. Given the Universities unique standing, its expansion is vital to California’s overall stability.
In a recent (confidential,editedl) article one concerned citizen stated that, “this is our city, not the Universities, and our needs of the community outweigh theirs.” Hmm, how many people live in California? What is the most populous state in the Union? The article went on to state that their main concerns were, “about the impact of the parking structure on traffic, the planned removal of a popular oak grove, and what they believe will be a loss of historic character.” Their main argument (in so many words) is that a new stadium should be built somewhere else. However, it has already been determined by a UC fact-finding panel that a stadium built anywhere else would increase the cost nearly five-fold. More importantly the stadium would have to be moved off campus, thus severing the vital link of the stadium to the university and the students. In a recent (confidential,edited) article, student Vicki Sims voiced a concern that resonates among nearly all students, “they have proposed moving the stadium, and yet they have no idea where else to put it. More importantly, a vast majority of the UC Berkeley student body does not drive. How are we to get to these sporting events in the first place if they move off campus?”
It is terribly unfortunate that these local citizens - rather than seeking plausible solutions to the situation - want only to place blame on the University for the expansion to protect their own interests. Rather than accepting what is clearly a need for the people and the state of California, they seek to protect their own wishes, wishes of the few. It should also be noted that all of the land that the proposed renovations and modifications will take place on are public lands, owned by that state of California (i.e. the people), not the city or private citizens of Berkeley. Rather than exercise issues of eminent domain, which would have undoubtedly led to legal land seizures, the University was able to incorporate the plan to fit preexisting land allotments.
Ultimately, only time will tell which side will prevail. However, I believe it is our duty as residents of California to see this project through for the good of not only our immediate needs, but for the needs of our children and grandchildren. Societies throughout time that have stagnated at the expense of the few rather than expand for the good of the many have resulted in doom, in either a literal sense or metaphorical sense. For the University to continue to enhance not only its sports standing but also its academic and overall image, this stadium renovation is mandatory. The needs of the many, clearly in this case, do outweigh the needs of the few. It is time for renovation and rebirth that all Californians can be proud of.

Seth W. S.

(note: this story is partially accurate and part satire. i am not claiming that any of it is actual fact. however, some of it is. i hope i didn’t offend anyone with it, i.e. the locals. i really think that we need 2 c this through or Cal will really just fall off the map 2 yrs or so down the road! is that what u want?)

No comments: