Cal alum’s goal-line stand for view from Tightwad Hill
Fan claims stadium renovation will ruin a tradition — he’s petitioning the regents_
- Rick DelVecchio, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, November 3, 2006
(http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/object/article?f=/c/a/2006/11/03/MNGCEM5H4H1.DTL&o=0&type=printable) (http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/object/article?f=/c/a/2006/11/03/MNGCEM5H4H1.DTL&o=1&type=printable) (http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/object/article?f=/c/a/2006/11/03/MNGCEM5H4H1.DTL&o=2&type=printable) Golden Bears football fans who watch games for free from legendary Tightwad Hill overlooking Memorial Stadium say Cal’s planned stadium renovation will block their views and wipe out a tradition as old as the concrete bowl itself. Tightwad stalwart Dan Sicular is so mad he’s taking the case for preserving the tradition all the way to the top.
The Berkeley native and Cal alumnus is circulating a save-Tightwad petition and hopes to have a thousand signatures on it when he delivers it to the governing UC Board of Regents at its meeting in Los Angeles later this month. “It’s a public resource — what goes around here for an age-old tradition — and it shouldn’t be destroyed,” Sicular said.
In a winning season, like now, the hill can draw 300 fans on a Saturday. When
Cal plays Stanford, the crowd can hit 500.
“They’re screwing with tradition from the 1920s,” said Marc Gantz, 51, a Berkeley native who has been watching games on the hill since he was in elementary school. “How can they not have the foresight?”
In the early 1920s, engineers excavated the rocky flanks of Strawberry Creek to make way for the stadium, and fans soon claimed the handiest ledges for watching games. Tightwad Hill was born.
It’s said that romping undergrads broke it in, but eventually the hill attracted families, alumni of all ages, out-of-town fans without tickets and motley locals with or without holes in their pockets. Tightwad regulars say anybody is welcome if they’re not for USC or UCLA. Cardinal red, the color of Cal’s archrival Stanford, also is prohibited.
“People bring chairs, sometimes drag couches up there,” said Sicular, 48, an environmental consultant with a doctorate from Cal. “Some people sit in trees.”
The regents are scheduled to take up Cal’s final environmental impact report outlining long-term plans to develop the southeast side of campus. The report
maps new buildings for the law and business schools, an athletic center for
many of Cal’s varsity sports teams and a makeover of the stadium. The design for the athletic center is complete, and Cal will ask the regents to approve it. Completion is expected in 2008. The other projects, including the stadium, are still in the early planning and fundraising stages and are not up for action by the regents.
The preliminary stadium plan calls for shoring up parts of the exterior that are in danger of falling down in a major earthquake on the Hayward Fault, which runs underneath the structure. At the same time, the seating and restrooms would be overhauled to give Cal a modern football bowl.
A feature of the new seating scheme would be an upper deck of four rows added
to the top of the middle part of the bowl’s east side. Studded with light
towers, it would project above the existing grade.
The east-side plan “is only in schematic review” and so “not even near final design,” Cal spokeswoman Marie Felde cautioned Thursday.
But the documents Cal has issued so far give detail enough for Sicular and other Tightwad regulars to fear the worst.
Today, from his usual Tightwad seat between the 50-yard line and the north goalpost, Sicular can see everything except a quarter of one end zone. But under the new design, he believes, nearly half the field will be blocked. Sicular said the impact on views from Tightwad should be considered significant and the planned seating addition could be lowered or moved. In its final environment impact report, the university answered that no physical changes are planned for the hill and that the field will remain visible from Tightwad Hill to a large degree. The degree wasn’t specified, but to Sicular, anything less than the whole is not a good thing.
“If you can’t see half the field, what sort of viewing experience is that?” Sicular asked.
Asked about Sicular’s petition, university spokeswoman Felde referred to the final environmental impact report. The document “answered Dan’s comments as best we could with the information we have now,” she said.
Sicular said even though the stadium plans are preliminary, the regents should make approval of any future stadium project conditional on ensuring that views are not blocked.
E-mail Rick DelVecchio at firstname.lastname@example.org_
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