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Official Review by Ryan Norris, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Haas Pavilion received a set of renovations prior to the start of the 2015 season, its first upgrades since opening in 1999. Renovations included a new center-hung scoreboard, upgraded lighting and audio systems as well as other modernizations.
Opened in 1933 as Men’s Gym, and renamed to Harmon Gym in 1959, Haas Pavilion sits on the same site. The arena is off Bancroft Way between Telegraph and Shattuck Avenues in Berkeley, California, in the bustling downtown neighborhood surrounded by bars, restaurants, coffee shops and bookstores.
The California Golden Bears have made 17 NCAA Tournament appearances and won the National Championship in 1959. They have made three Final Four appearances and won their conference championship 15 times, most recently in 2010.
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".
Haas Pavilion provides fewer options than you would expect for a venue that holds over 11,000 people. They are adequate but nothing special, and for non-conference games, options shrink further.
Hot dogs, polish sausage, and nachos with the stock cheese are the main offerings. Dessert varieties include magnum ice cream bars, lemonade chills and chocolate malts. Everything on the menu ranges from $3 to $7.
Game day begins just outside of Haas Pavilion with a few activities for kids and a beer garden for the adults. Typical domestics are available as well as brews for local craft brewery, Black Diamond.
Haas Pavilion now seats 11,858 at capacity and is surrounded by a beautiful, memorabilia-filled concourse. A stroll around the concourse will reveal awards and achievements by the Golden Bears in every conceivable sport. One of which is a really cool Rose Bowl pennant featuring the final score of Cal's 13-0 win over Alabama in 1938.
In addition to the national anthem, the entire crowd stands and sings "Hail to California."
The wacky Cal band is posted up with the student section along one of the sidelines. Between the band and the students, they encompass the entire sideline, several rows deep, in what is known as "The Bench."
A big upgrade in my mind is the removal of the four-sided facade that hung from the ceiling. It was a bit distracting and blocked some of the upper views. Unfortunately, it was the home to banners for retired numbers and championships. It was a weird spot for them to be displayed but it doesn't look like there is a new spot for those honors.
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 a mix of hippies and yuppies and everyone in between. It's a hotbed for progressive viewpoints and a destination for minds from around the world. The neighborhood reflects that in its variety, quality and vibe. 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.
Not far from Haas 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.
Bear's Lair Pub and Freehouse are both good options for gastropub food and craft beer. Pappy's and Kip's are the best sports bars in the neighborhood. My favorite pizza joint is Bobby's G's on University Ave. They serve excellent pizza with a great beer list and have a few TVs showing games.
Saturn Café serves diner-style vegetarian food and Cancun is the most popular taqueria near campus. East Bay Spice Company serves Indian street food and craft cocktails and Gather provides upscale dining with a bent for local ingredients.
If you're looking for something a bit on the nicer side, I recommend Zatar. They serve delicious seasonal Mediterranean food, but keep in mind it is cash only.
There are a seemingly endless amount of options of every variety of food or drink. Thai, Vietnamese, burgers, pizza, falafel, cheese; whatever you fancy, you can find.
Lastly, the Cal campus is absolutely beautiful and worth a stroll.
Fan support for Cal games vary greatly from game to game. Non-conference games take on an entirely different vibe from conference games. There can be 2,000 fans one game and 10,000 the next. The Bay Area in general is not known for strong collegiate sporting support.
Overall the fans are engaged with the game and are a mix of families and alums, though very few students attend the non-conference games.
The University of California-Berkeley is within walking distance to the downtown Berkeley BART station and several AC Transit bus lines. Driving can be a bit problematic during rush hours after work and after class. Parking is available for a $20 fee and is pretty much mandatory since parking on the surrounding streets is prohibited without a neighborhood pass. Neighbors will also rent out their driveways for bigger games.
Getting into the gym is a breeze as there is ample space to move about the entrance ways as well as multiple staircases to get to your seat. There are also plenty of concession stands and clean restrooms within reasonable distance to any seat.
Since the surrounding neighborhood is convenient for food and drink, you really can make an entire day or evening out of this trip. I recommend taking the train to Berkeley an hour or two before the game and enjoy what the neighborhood has to offer.
The one issue regarding access is the confusing concourse set up. There are three different concourse levels and some of them connect via staircases while others connect through the seating areas. Things are not well labeled and I found myself outside of the building at times while trying to make my way around Haas. One positive is that you can step outside and catch some fresh air and a sunset over the bay.
The get-in price for a Cal game is $20, however you can find secondary market tickets for non-conference games for about half that. Conference games begin at $30 and is a good deal when you take into account the upgraded atmosphere. The lower ticket prices come without chair backs. Mid-court seats range from $55 to $110 and come with upgraded comfy seats.
My recommendation is to take public transit to avoid parking fees and spend that money at a bar or restaurant in the neighborhood. No food within Haas is worth avoiding the great options outside.
I love the memorabilia from all the sports scattered around the concourse. Old team photos from the nationally-acclaimed rugby team, trophies from the swim teams and pictures of the baseball greats are on display.
I really like being able to step outside of the arena and catch a sunset or a few pitches at adjacent Evans Diamond. When the weather's nice, as it is often, this is a great perk.
Lastly, an extra point goes to the Cal band who are excellent at mixing Cal classics with their own spins on current hits. Their dancing, which isn't as acclaimed as their music, is just as energetic.
If spending the weekend in the Bay Area, a trip to Haas Pavilion and the downtown Berkeley neighborhood are well worth a day. A nice, modern venue with a quality team in a great city are all great attractions.
Member Review by ryannorris
The new home of the California Golden Bears opened in 1999 at the site of its predecessor, Harmon Gym, in Berkeley California. The arena is off of Bancroft Way between Telegraph and Shattuck avenues in the bustling downtown neighborhood surrounded by bars, restaurants, coffee shops and bookstores.
Haas Pavilion now seats 11,877 at capacity and is surrounded by a beautiful, memorabilia-filled concourse. A stroll around the concourse will reveal awards and achievements by the Golden Bears in every conceivable sport. One of which was a really cool Rose Bowl pennant featuring the final score of Cal's 13-0 win over Alabama in 1938.
Once inside the pavilion you'll notice the rectangular facade enclosing the court about fifty feet above the floor. Implemented within the facade are advertisements, big-screens, championship banners and retired numbers; notable of which are Jason Kidd and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. Oddly, the interior of the rectangle is only viewable from the opposite end of the court as the backside of the rectangle is your view on your side of the court.
Though Haas Pavilion seats over 11,000 spectators there is only one bowl of seating. This creates an intimate atmosphere for a larger building, which was important when upping the capacity from the old Harmon Gym. A student supporters group and the band shack up at one end of the court and are active from before tip-off through the end of the game.
Member Review by ryannorris on Mar 14, 2013
Opened in 1933 as Men’s Gym, renamed to Harmon Gym in 1959, the arena was renamed again to Haas Pavilion in 1999 after major renovations. The arena is off Bancroft Way between Telegraph and Shattuck Avenues in Berkeley, California, in the bustling downtown neighborhood surrounded by bars, restaurants, coffee shops and bookstores.
The California Golden Bears have made 17 NCAA Tournament appearances and won the National Championship in 1959. With Mike Montgomery at the helm, they hope to continue the recent success and become a perennial contestant in the tournament.
Member Review by sportsroadtrips on Dec 20, 2014
Wonderful place that retains history yet has upgraded to a contemporary venue. Steep seats on the side mean even the 25th row is on top of the action. Food was terrible though, the bacon-wrapped dog a tasteless ripoff at $7, but that was the only negative. You can park on Bancroft Way for $2.75 an hour, 2 hour max from Monday to Saturday that expires at 6 pm, and there is 8 hour parking along Shattuck Avenue, where you can also find the great Jupiter bar. I saw a non-conference opponent and there was a $5 ticket special, hence my high ROI score, but beware, prices rise for conference games.
1920 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA 94704
2175 Allston Way
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 845 8505
2134 Allston Way
Berkeley, CA 94704
2072 University Ave
Berkeley, CA 94704
2230 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA 94704
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