Haas Pavilion – California Golden Bears
Photos by Andrei Ojeda, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
Haas Pavilion 14 Frank Schlessinger Way Berkeley, CA 94720
Year Opened: 1933
Who’s Haas ? Bears Haas !
Opened in 1933, Haas Pavilion underwent extensive renovations before the 1999-2000 season, increasing capacity from just over 6,500 to just under 12,000. Thanks to this increase in seating, Haas Pavilion just may rank as the loudest venue in the Pac-12 when filled.
Food & Beverage 3
Aside from your standard hot dogs, sausages, and burgers, specialty sandwiches such as the Mesquite Turkey with Bacon, Thai Chicken, and Tofu Wrap, as well as Caesar and Harvest Green Salads, are available at a reasonable $10. Standard snacks such as nachos, pretzels, chips, and popcorn are also available, with the souvenir popcorn costing the same as the sandwiches. Candy and Mrs. Field’s ice cream sandwiches are also available for $5.
The moment you step inside The Haas you get the sense that even with the enhancements made almost 20 years ago, you still get an old-school vibe here. There are no luxury boxes to be found and the seats rise immediately from the basketball floor, putting the fans right on top of the action. A good number of seats are bench seating, and when filled and at its loudest, the Bears Haas Pavilion can be a very daunting place for the visiting 5 to deal with.
Adding to the atmosphere is the new floor and its design, featuring the famous Cal script at mid-court, replacing the growling bear. Along with the famous Cal script, the new floor design, not only clean and simple, is practically similar to the football field’s design at Memorial Stadium, with the signature Sather Stripe being featured on the baselines.
Should you decide to arrive early, public transit is a great option. A great way to arrive is by way of the Bay Area Rapid Transit subway (BART). The BART has a station in Downtown Berkeley on Shattuck Avenue.
Along Shattuck, you will find plenty of pre and post-game entertainment and dining options. If it’s your first time in Berkeley and you would like to soak in some of its histories, you will want to walk up Bancroft Way toward the historic Sather Gate. Once the formal south entrance to campus, the Sather Gate has been the site over the years of many free speeches, and a key location for countless political movements.
For the past season or two, the Bears home squad has been a young team, so hard times on the court can be expected. Nonetheless, the home fans have turned out in respectable numbers. Though Haas Pavilion is not always filled, the fans who turn out do a great job rallying the home team throughout the game, creating a loud and exciting atmosphere. One can only imagine how loud Haas Pavilion can be when the home 5 is in contention for an NCAA tournament berth.
Like any college town, parking can be a hassle. Fortunately, there is a sufficient amount of public transit passing through campus, provided by Alameda County Transit. If you are traveling from San Francisco, Oakland, or points beyond, the Bay Area Rapid Transit rail system (BART) is also a great option. The Berkeley BART Station is a 10-15 minute walk from Haas Pavilion on Shattuck Avenue – if possible you will want to avoid any potential parking hassles and use the BART.
Once you step outside the BART station, if time permits, you will want to stroll along Shattuck Avenue, as there are plenty of pre and post-game entertainment and dining options to be found there.
Return on Investment 3
Currently, with a young and struggling team, tickets are not hard to access. Starting at $23 for general admission seats, prices do go up when certain opponents, particularly Stanford, Arizona, or UCLA are in town. However, once inside Haas Pavilion no matter where you are seated, you are always on top of and never too far from the action.
As you wander through the stands, there’s a great chance that you may come across Oski, the proud mascot of the Golden Bears. Always keeping the same stoic expression, Oski is still happy to mingle among the fans nonetheless. Just don’t let Oski catch you wearing the dreaded “red,” the prime color of Cal’s longtime rival, Stanford. Wear red in Oski’s presence and you just may feel his wrath, along with the student’s wrath, who just may yell out “TAKE OFF THAT RED SHIRT!”
In the lower and middle concourses, you will see tributes to past Cal Bear alumni – two of the more notable Bears honored are Kevin Johnson and Jason Kidd. Also along the middle west concourse is a statue paying tribute to former head coach Pete Newell, in front of a mural of his 1959 National Title team. Known as “America’s Basketball Guru,” Pete Newell is also synonymous among NBA circles, having organized the “Big Man Camp,” attracting the likes of Shaq, Hakeem, and Bill Walton.
As nice as the tributes are along the concourse, why not show some of that off high up on the rafters as well? For such a venerable venue, it’s surprising that there are no banners paying tribute to Cal basketball’s storied past, which could include the years in which they won conference championships.
Recent Golden Bears squads are young, and some growing pains are expected – that should not discourage you from paying a visit to the Bears Haas. Opened in 1933, thanks to the renovations made before the 1999-2000 season, Haas Pavilion continues to rank favorably among historic and venerable college venues. Also, thanks to the renovations, Haas will continue to Roll On for years to come, preserving a place in college basketball that retains its classic charm, while continuing to serve the needs of the present-day fan.