On Monday morning, I had a chance to enter California Memorial Stadium. Boy, is she a thing of beauty. While I was ostensibly there to count seats, I was able to capture a few pictures with my old Sony point-and-shoot. Here are the results of my journey. For those of you who can't wait for Saturday:
At 8:45 am, I joined a group of lively California denizens marching up Bancroft. If you were wondering how students feel about our stadium, I don't know a single student who has negative feelings about it. Generally, students range from "That's great; I should get tickets this season to check it out!" to "OMG I CAN'T WAIT FOR 9/1 THE ANTICIPATION IS LITERALLY KILLING ME!"
Here we are at Gate 6, by the South Tunnel (apologies: old camera, old/dirty lens). This also happens to be the gate the visiting team enters through. At first they wanted us all to don hard hats, but they ran out of hard hats. Instead, we all signed the same waiver and ran inside.
I'm a fan of the new color and scheme of the signs ("Concourse"). They look extremely classy and definitely add a nice touch to the place. Kudos to whomever chose these. If you look up to the top of the rim, you can see the separation between the two parts of the stadium. Here's a closer look:
Yes, $300 million bought us this divider (along with massive upgrades to amenities and safety, but who's counting?). More seriously, you do have to be specifically looking for this connector to notice it, and I didn't notice it when I was inside the stadium. I assume this is one of the expansion joints built into the stadium.
Look at the width of that concourse! I'm not sure how I feel about the blue tiling, but to each his own. Yes, those are restrooms. Yes, they are not porta-potties. Yes, I think they are improved. And...
(Apologies; I'm terrible with keeping my camera level) This is the site that greets you as you enter from the South. Wow. Comment from behind me: "Wow. I'm getting those chills I got when I entered my first stadium ever." It's that good, people. It does kind of bother me, though, that the Blue and Gold Zones are gone. How will the student section yell "Hey BLUE ZONE, MAKE SOME NOISE!!!" now?
My assignment was to count all the seats in T. After finishing, I snapped this picture from row 75 seats 3-5 (ish) of T. To my left is the student section. To my right, far below, is a fellow student counting her section (it wasn't all play; there was work involved). That yellow band they're stretching across the field looks to me like it's the ribbon they'll be cutting for the official pregame ceremony on Saturday. I didn't get a chance to take a closer picture of it, but it's basically a thick "gold" ribbon with many script Cal's on its body. When they cut this on Saturday, cheer loudly!
After finishing my section, I went down to the field to snap some more pictures. The field has noticeably been lowered, and the front rows of the student section are much more viable as "seats" (who sits in the student section?) than they were before. I do foresee rushing the field being a problem, but if we have a reason to rush the field, 4.5 feet is not going to stop us. Also, I don't know if they intend to replace it, but the BearData tarp is gone. There is simply a small guardrail in front of the main student section now.
Here's one of the ribbon screens that line the field. Hopefully, a 300-lb lineman doesn't crash into these.
I don't know if anyone else feels this way, but the Pressbox reminds me of the ornate roofs of ancient Chinese temples.
It's harder to see in this picture, but the sponsors have prominent (3D?) logos underneath the long ribbon screen.
I stuck my camera on the padding on the South goalposts and ran out. Mixed results. Insert a -McKayla is not impressed- face here.
Me again! At the 50 yard line, no less. Missing: The Andy Smith Bench. The Cal sideline doesn't seem the same without it. The tiny metal benches they have lining the back don't seem quite as adequate.
Obligatory "50" picture. The turf is beautiful; I can see why the players said they felt like (paraphrased) Usain Bolt on it. It's firm enough that I felt explosive, but slightly springy as well. After 30 minutes of running around on the field, I didn't have any rubber pellets in my shoes either.
After lounging around on the field, I went up into the ESP sections. I believe these are field club seats. They are plastic, and look a lot less comfortable than they really are (though at 10:30, the plastic was already marginally warm). I didn't have a chance to go into Stadium or University club seats. The so-called "barrier" between the ESP and regular sections is basically nonexistent; it's about a foot high, and barely fits the definition of "barrier" by any stretch of the definition.
The views west and east, respectively. If you look very closely, you might see the Golden Gate Bridge peeking through the fog. This area is definitely a very cool place to hold outside events.
Back outside! As a side note, I found the elevator buttons inside the pressbox, which all had a Script Cal logo glowing blue, very cool. It's the little things that really make this place sparkle.
Another example of a great design for a sign.
One last look at Goldman Plaza before we leave. The grass out here is real.
A sneak look into the SAHPC as we leave. The athletes inside looked up right after we snapped some photos. We're such creepers.
There you have it. California Memorial Stadium: Welcome Home.