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Official Review by Ryan Norris, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The University of California’s Memorial Stadium isn’t the only facility on campus that has gone through renovations in recent years. Cal’s baseball field, Evans Baseball Diamond, is in the process of major renovations to allow the facility to host NCAA Regionals and better accommodate the new PAC-12 network crews.
The outdated stadium became especially apparent when they had to host their 2011 NCAA Super Regional at Stephen Schott Stadium, on the campus of Santa Clara University.
As part of the recent renovations, Evans Diamond got 8 new light towers and for the first time in its history, hosted a night-game on March 23, 2013.
The other major renovation was still in progress when I visited in spring, 2013. That renovation is the installation of a brand new, state-of-the-art scoreboard in the left-centerfield power alley, replacing the aging, albeit charming scoreboard they have used for decades.
All of these renovations go a long way to improving the fan experience for the formidable Cal Bears. California won the first-ever College World Series in 1947 over Yale and won their second and most recent championship in 1957.
In 2010, the university announced that the baseball program would be cut in a cost-cutting measure. Thanks to private donations and a grant from the San Francisco Giants, the program was saved and the baseball team responded in 2011 by going to their first College World Series since 1992.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
There are two concession stands and a beer garden as well as concession workers working the seating areas.
Hot dogs ($5) are available along with polish sausages, bratwursts, and Louisiana hot sausages ($6), and nachos ($5) as the main items. Snacks include peanuts, candy, soft pretzels, and Big League Chew. Most popular on the day I attended, were the lemonade chills and ice cream. 24 oz soft drinks ($4) and bottled water ($3) were popular but coffee and hot chocolate ($4) were not on this hot day.
With a valid I.D. you can catch the game from the beer garden where 12 oz microbrews (Drake's, Black Diamond) and 16 oz Coors Lights are sold for $8. Wine is available in the beer garden as well.
Evans Diamond fits snug between two much larger venues. Haas Pavilion butts up against the concourse down the left field line while Edwards Stadium, home of the soccer teams, is just beyond the right field wall. Because of these bigger venues enclosing Evans Diamond, it makes for a uniquely intimate environment.
All of the seating is bleacher seating and extends from behind home plate down the right field line. The one exception is the grass berm about a third of the way up the 3rd base line and the seating in the beer garden in the left field corner near the large profiles of Cal baseball greats.
The dugouts at Evans Diamond are dug deep into the ground so a bulky dugout isn't a visibility problem. Players from both teams stand behind a 4 foot tall fence in front of their respective dugouts.
The backstop netting does not extend very far down either baseline which is great for visibility but fans should be sure to be focused on the game in case of errant foul balls.
Cal's campus is gorgeous and provides an excellent backdrop for the baseball stadium. The beauty combined with Bay Area spring weather makes for an excellent day at the ballpark.
The one detriment to the atmosphere was the construction going on in the outfield. There was temporary fencing set up as a new home run fence, roughly the width of the warning track, presumably as they work on the new scoreboard. It will be an awesome new addition but in the meantime it is a bit of an eyesore.
Berkeley is one of the most famous (and infamous) cities in the Bay Area. The beautiful buildings of downtown have seen the political movements and student uprisings of the last century. It is both one of the most expensive places to live in California and the home of the infamous tree-sitters who lasted nearly two years staying day and night, in oak trees.
There are a couple main drags near the Berkeley campus. One of them is Telegraph Ave, butting into campus near its heart. Telegraph often times blurs in to campus. Shattuck is more restaurant-centric and is probably where people go in Berkeley when not wanting to get too near campus. Euclid Ave is the quieter of the three streets and is often overlooked, but they have great bars and restaurants without having to push your way through the crowds.
All of this is the backdrop to a truly vibrant neighborhood with unique shops selling anything from animal skins to bongs and restaurants as unique as the city they call home. Any cuisine is available from Indian to Cuban, burgers to pizza. One of my favorite signs in town is the one that designates a restaurant as Pakistani/Indian/Mexican. I'm intrigued.
Not far from campus are two Berkeley-based craft breweries, Triple Rock and Jupiter, both located on Shattuck Avenue. Jupiter is probably the nicer, less-crowded of the two, serving specialty pizza in a more sit-down style while Triple Rock is a louder, more student-focused bar. Both serve great beer.
Top it all off with a beautiful campus, perhaps the most beautiful public school in the state.
There seems to be renewed sense of pride in Cal baseball now that fans and alumni have helped save the program. This was evident on a day when Evans Diamond was at near-capacity, an anomaly in the world of college baseball. It seemed that most of the fans were either alumni or kids there for "kids day" at Evans.
The fans at Cal take great pride in the players from the program that have moved on to MLB; a list that includes Jeff Kent, Conor Jackson, Lance Blankenship and Brandon Morrow.
The layout of the stadium is conducive to getting around to anywhere you want to go. They are good about making sure lines form where they are supposed so as not to block walkways. Restrooms are located in the Haas Pavilion, down the left field line.
Getting to Berkeley is convenient from all over the Bay Area via BART, the closest station being Downtown Berkeley at Shattuck Avenue. I'd highly recommend taking the train rather than driving since there is no designated parking lot for Evans Diamond and there are many parking restrictions in the surrounding neighborhoods. Sundays would be the exception as meters are not checked and hourly parking is not enforced in the residential neighborhoods. Still, if you park in the neighborhood you'll likely have to walk just as far as you would from the train station. Taking the train also allows you stop in at one of the many great neighborhood bars.
Cal's campus can be a bit confusing for first-time visitors. As I mentioned, Evans Diamond is snug in between other venues and there are not as many walkways as you would like. You must walk around either Haas Pavilion or Edwards Stadium to get to the ballpark.
I really enjoyed my day at Evans Diamond; it is was well worth the $10 general admission ticket I purchased. I thought beer was rather expensive, however AT&T Park nods in approval. You can make this an inexpensive trip by bringing in your own snacks and drinks (plastic bottles are ok). If anything, it's a great excuse to get to the beautiful California-Berkeley campus.
One of my favorite features is the way the facade of Haas Pavilion plays into the game day experience. First, there is seating on its various patios that overlook Evans Diamond. Also, since it is so close to the field, batters peppered the side of it with foul balls and many kids congregated here trying to play the carom.
The beer garden is a great touch and allows for a field level view of the game.
Kids Day at Evans Diamond: For every last game of a series against a PAC-12 opponent, kids can attend the game for free.
Member Review by okstate on Apr 30, 2014
Food & Beverage: There's only 2 concession stands and the food is relatively expensive.
Atmosphere: I can see this place being an awesome place to watch a baseball game when Cal is playing good.
Neighborhood: Berkeley is a unique city. There's a lot of good food around.
Fans: The Arkansas fans were louder than the home fans.
Access: Couldn't find a lot of parking in the area but maybe that's because I don't know the city very well.
Return: Decent ticket prices to watch 2 pretty good teams play however I reccomend bringing your own food from one of the many diverse restaurants in the area.
Extras: Not the biggest or fanciest, but really neat place to watch a baseball game. And they serve beer if you're of age.
1920 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94704
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