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Cal may relocate/cut Soccer, Track & Field to build residential housing at Edwards Stadium

Cal Athletics is getting creative in plans to generate revenue (to bridge the budget deficit) by using its valuable real estate asset that is Edwards Stadium.

women's soccer vs. usf
Cal fans may not get to enjoy more Cal Soccer from Edwards Stadium in the future.
Ruey Yen

Cal announced a brand new budget for the 2018 fiscal year last week. This is the budget for the entire university, beyond just the Athletics Department The Daily Cal has a nice summary article on this. I am sure CGB will cover this in depth more.

The article does include this one mention about Cal Athletics’ potential plan to reduce the budget deficit by $4.652 million per year.

Cal Athletics identifies various potential long-term strategies to raise revenues and reduce expenses, including “the relocation of track and soccer programs — if continued — to a different location and allowing the campus to construct residential housing at Edwards Stadium” and making “reductions in program scope” up to $8 million per year.

The quote within the quote above is the first time that I have heard about the plan to reuse Edwards Stadium. By turning the valuable land that is Edwards Stadium into more residential housings, Cal can then increase its enrollment to bring in more money as new chancellor Carol Christ had suggested in the past.

But what about the programs that currently occupy that space?

Cal Men’s Soccer and Men’s Track and Field have been murmured in the past as potential cuts, but Cal Athletics will first attempt to “relocate” them. Amongst the athletics fields on campus, Edwards Stadium is one of the few grass fields, unlike Memorial Stadium (which had to borrow grass to host the International Champions Cup match between Real Madrid and Inter Milan in 2014) or Underhill (used by the Field Hockey team). The most obvious place to relocate the soccer teams would the Witter Field used by Cal Rugby, but it feels like a logistical nightmare to use that field for three teams. Evans Diamond may also be convertible into a soccer field in the fall, but I am not certain that the outfield is wide enough (my understanding is that the rule for the width of a soccer field allowed for a wide range of interpretation - thus this incident last year in the NWSL).

Track athletes would also need a new home to train on the daily basis with this move. Maybe the track near Clark Kerr can be improved to make this work. However, it is hard to imagine that area being used to host a track meet. Not having Edwards Stadium will likely means more neutral site meets where the Golden Bears will not have any literally “home field advantage”.

Just last year, the completion of Legends Aquatics Center and the repurposing of Underhill Field meant that all of Cal athletes, including all the platform divers and the field hockey team, have a Berkeley home for the first time ever. Granted neither soccer nor track should need to travel as far as Stanford on a weekly basis to train, but not having a great facility, on par with the present Edwards Stadium, would no doubt negatively impact recruiting.

Just last year in the 2016 Rio Olympics, Cal had two soccer and three track and field “Calympians”. Even without winning national championships, these programs have been pretty successful in recent years. Cal women’s soccer alum Alex Morgan is arguably the most famous women soccer player in the world. Her husband, Servando Carrasco, a Cal men’s soccer alum who is now playing for the MLS Orlando City is one of 13 Cal men’s soccer alum that is playing pro ball right now. Cal women’s soccer has made it to the NCAA postseason for 13 consecutive years. Cal men’s soccer was just in the NCAA Elite 8 in both 2010 and 2014. Cal track and field, despite not having that much team success, has had individual representatives at the NCAA championships on an almost annual basis.

Cal Athletics have stated that while they will entertain the notion of cutting sports, they will first look to bridge the budget deficit without alienating a whole sector of alum/fans. Nevertheless, the Cal soccer and track communities will likely not take this proposed plan well.

Given the rising prominence of soccer in the United States, can the numerous MLS and NWSL Cal soccer alum band together with USA Soccer to save Edwards Stadium and the Cal soccer programs? Due to Title IX, the women’s sports will be much harder to cut, but I am certain that women’s soccer and the women’s track and field athletes would like to keep Edwards Stadium as well.

The Cal soccer field is currently named after the Goldman family, who also has the Memorial Stadium plaza named after them.

Cal fans, what do you think about this potential plan to convert Edwards Stadium into dorms?