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Memorial Stadium Roundtable: Coming Home

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(Image via CalBearsOnline)

Avinash: Back to Memorial. It'll be the same, but in some ways very different than before.

The stadium will finally be caught up to the rest of the big college environments. It'll have a modern press box, better concessions and more importantly a real locker room. There will be annoying things, like stuffy suits on the West Side, possibly loud advertisements and in-game music. But that's the cost of doing business right now. Most of the traditions we grew up with should mostly stay the same.

Of course, the East Side which most of us sit on will still definitely be the same. All hail the endless line of portable toilets!

What are you looking forward to the most about coming back to Memorial? What causes you the most concern?

Cugel: Stuffy Suits? Really? When was the last time you saw me in one?

Avinash: I don't know you. I don't even know your name!

Vincent S: Three things seem to be the greatest causes for concern for me.

First factor: The drastic reduction in seating capacity.

It is my belief that our average crowd figure will drop as a result; for Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, and USC games, we easily broke 65k, and usually broke 70k. As a result, our average attendance looked much higher. Now, we can only hit, what, 63k? Lower attendance numbers never seem to be that good to look at. Less crowd also means less noise. As a stadium who's noise factor is heavily underrated (until after we play new teams), this worries me.

Second factor: The possible failed transferring of gameday traditions and environment. Old Memorial had character. It was run-down, messy, cracking, and home. This reminds me a bit of when Cal transitioned from Harmon Gym to Haas Pavilion. Harmon Gym and Old Memorial rocked. Haas Pavilion lost much of that character, and Cal is even now trying to build that back up. I sincerely hope this does not occur with New Memorial.

Third factor: The visitors' locker room has been renovated. I'm convinced that this may have been our biggest home-field advantage provider. Looking at pictures and reading reviews, Cal's old locker room was named worst in the conference. The facilities were unbelievably cramped and run-down. Teams seemed to find it extremely difficult to hold meetings where the coaches could address the entire team at once. This means confusion in the game plan at the beginning of the game, as well as half-time adjustments. The new visitors locker room doesn't have to be run-down in my opinion; it just has to be cramped.

solarise: The noise level. We took away seats @ Memorial to bring more Eugene, Oregon to Strawberry Creek. I'd like to hear the Cal fans roar and bring the noise to every game. Our Golden Bears have typically excelled at home. Getting our fan support should make Memorial an even more intimidating place to play every Saturday.

LeonPowe: Everything will be fine as long as we put out an exciting (and winning) product on the field. If we do have a problem - it'll be a good one to have - and that's consistent sell-outs where a Cal football ticket is difficult to get. I'm not worried about noise, especially with the dropped field surface.

unclesam22: My biggest concern is that Memorial stadium is still in Berkeley and I still live in Alabama...

Ohio Bear: My biggest concern is that people will bitch incessantly about new Memorial and not appreciate what a kickass football venue we have.

ragnarok: I'm definitely looking forward to the lower field level, creating better sight lines and (hopefully) making it a lot louder down on the field when we're on defense. Also, I'm looking forward to not ever going to football games at AT&T park ever again. We're coming home!

atomsareenough: What am I looking forward to about coming back to Memorial? ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING.

Fall Saturdays in Berkeley, CA, the UC campus abuzz with football and non-football related activity as students mill about and get situated for a new year. Walking up the hill to the stadium in a tide awash in blue and gold, and feeling like "yeah, these are my people". Feeling the laid-back California crowd warming up its lungs as they slowly work themselves up from a relaxed titter to a hearty, lusty roar. Hearing the cannon go off when we score. Being able to see the entire Bay Area bathed in the golden afternoon/evening sun from the lip of the stadium. Watching our team fight valiantly against some evil foe from some inferior school. Telling The Whole Damn World This Is Bear Territory.

Look, I am not a high roller or a big spender. Frankly, I'm a bit of a homebody as well. I moved back to the Bay Area a few years ago and I've been going to games regularly, and of course I watch the ones I don't go to, but I've never been a season ticket holder for any sport or any team, professional or college... Until now. That's how excited I am. The idea of being back home in Memorial was enough to finally get me to take the plunge. I can't wait to see how our glorious old stadium has been renewed. How the classic beauty of the place will be allowed to shine thanks to the wonders of modern design and construction. I am expecting and hoping for the best of old and new to come together in a showpiece facility that will make us proud to be California Golden Bears. Also, I'm hoping it will be a raucous, impossible place for opposing teams to come and play, an environment gets in their heads and makes them apprehensive even before they get on the bus or plane. That last part is up to us, though.

What am I concerned about? Not much, really. I'm somewhat concerned that they won't finish on time, I guess. But as long as they do the job right, I don't really mind. I suppose there's a small chance that they could mess it up and the fundamental character of the place will be lost, but I doubt it. It's the same stadium in the same location with the same team and the same fans. It'll just hopefully be nicer, that's all. Memorial is such a special and wonderful place that it just seems like it would take some real willful negligence, or some kind of significant malfeasance, for the construction project to mess it up... The project is intended as an improvement, after all. They would have to miss the mark pretty badly. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt for now.

Kodiak: I don't think I could put it better or more eloquently than Atoms already has.

I expect to get chills and perhaps have my allergies flare up a little when the Best Damn Band in the Land comes marching out through the North Tunnel as the cannon fires off.

I think the atmosphere will be absolutely electric and breathtaking.

Quite honestly, I don't expect the stadium to be anywhere near a finished product. I'm just glad we're home and that Cal football is back.

Cugel: I think Atoms nailed it, I couldn't add much except to say it's hard to have a home field advantage when you lack a home field. It will be good to be home again.