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  • Writer's pictureAndrei Ojeda

Memorial Stadium - California Golden Bears

Photos by Chris Green and Andrei Ojeda, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43

Memorial Stadium 76 Canyon Rd Berkeley, CA 94704

Year Opened: 1923 Capacity: 63,186


Roll On You Bears

When it comes to college football’s historic venues, Memorial Stadium in Berkeley is arguably one of the more underrated experiences. Because the football program does not have the glorious history of fellow Pac-12 foe USC or some of the nation’s other top-notch programs, Memorial Stadium is not talked of much when it comes to the ultimate college football experience.

Though the University of California may be known to some for its activities away from athletics, Memorial Stadium has produced its share of Sunday afternoon gridironers from Craig Morton, Steve Bartkowski, Chuck Muncie, Tony Gonzalez and Jared Goff, to name a few.

So historic is Memorial Stadium on November 27, 2006 it was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Memorial Stadium is certainly not short on memorable moments, one that includes one of college football’s most iconic endings on some November afternoon in 1982, one that still conjures up bitter memories to then Stanford’s senior QB and future NFL Hall of Famer John Elway.

Food & Beverage 4

There is no shortage of food and beverage choices. Below are some of the vast options available for the hungry and thirsty fans…

  • Standard – Hot dogs, burgers, chips, peanuts, pretzels. Pepsi products and bottled water, candy

  • Peet’s Café – Coffee or hot cocoa in a Cal souvenir hot beverage cup, chicken or veggie wraps, kale & cranberry salads

  • Mexican – Tacos, nachos and burritos, churros

  • Others – BBQ chicken on a stick, pineapple sausage skewers, smoked brats, spicy beef hot links

  • Beer and Wine – Bud Light, Firestone 805 and Cupcake Pinot Noir

Rotating food trucks for each game are also available along the east concourse and feature many of the Bay Area’s ethnic tastes, including a Greek Food truck that serves up chicken, lamb or mixed gyro’s.

If you’re looking to dine on anything but stadium food, there are vast dining options along Shattuck Avenue in Downtown Berkeley. One of my favorites is Ike’s. Ike’s, a popular Bay Area sandwich shop with locations slowly and continuously opening nationwide, is known for its huge sandwiches. My favorite is the off the menu Big Jerry’s Meat on Dutch Crunch bread.

Atmosphere 4

Being that the stadium is uniquely constructed into the side of a hill, those willing to make the hike can watch the game for free from Tightwad Hill, providing a view from some 100 feet above the east rim of the stadium. Many of the fans here are regulars even when ticket availability is aplenty. Here also resides the victory cannon, which is fired after each Cal scoring play and after each victory. The views along Tightwad Hill and along the stands of the east rim extend all the way across San Francisco Bay, offering some of the most gorgeous views in college football.

Even with its recent, renovations Memorial Stadium still maintains its classic college bowl feel. Because of its bowl shape structure, unless there is a sizable crowd particularly for The Big Game against rival Stanford, crowd noise can fade. That does not put a damper on the enthusiasm particularly from the students who occupy much of the east stands. Sight lines have also improved greatly since the recent renovations and no matter where one is seated, you will never be far from the action.

Before you head into the game, the lack of tailgating is made up by the numerous college frat parties going on along the streets leading to Memorial Stadium, giving you the true college feel.

Neighborhood 4

If 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 dining options. If it’s your first time in Berkeley and you would like to soak in some if its history, 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 to many a free speech, and a key location for countless political movements.

Not far from the famous Sather Gate is the Sather Tower, another recognizable Bay Area landmark. The Sather Tower, also known as the Campanile, is the third-tallest bell and clock tower in the world. A visit to the observation platform gives you some breathtaking views of the Bay Area and is $4 to the general public, $3 for youth and seniors. This is another must-do for first time visitors to Berkeley.

Fans 3

Attendance for Cal Bears game can vary depending on various factors, team performance and start time among them. With the recent renovation decreasing seating capacity to around 63,000, a decent crowd of over 40,000 doesn’t appear as empty as say, The Rose Bowl, where its seating capacity of over 80,000 can make attendance look sparse.

The fans who do make the trek to Strawberry Canyon are very vocal. The Rally Committee does an outstanding job of keeping the fans involved with traditional cheers such as “Roll On You Bears” and “This is Bear Territory” after each win.

Traditions are aplenty at Berkeley. One of the prouder traditions among the students is letting a red-clad fan know whose home they’re in with a chant of “TAKE OFF THAT RED SHIRT!,” a reference to their rival Stanford.

Access 3

As with any college town, parking can be a hassle.Fortunately, there is enough 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 a viable option.As you exit the BART station, if you have any pre or post-game dining desires, Shattuck Avenue offers plenty of pre and post-game entertainment and dining.BART fares vary based on point of travel.The Downtown Berkeley BART Station is a 15-20 minute walk from Memorial Stadium.From the Downtown BART, walk a couple blocks south to Bancroft Way, make a left and walk east toward the stadium.If you are worried about directions, chances are great that other fans will be walking from the Downtown BART.In other words, just follow the crowd!

Return on Investment 3

Like most athletic programs, the price for tickets can vary with prices starting at $35 for general admission end zone seats, which can border on reasonable or pricey depending on if you’re looking to watch a high-tier program or just looking to soak in the college game day atmosphere.

Should you find yourself getting the most affordably priced ticket you will never be too far from the action. Some of the upper rows along the east rim offer not only a good view of the action but some gorgeous views of Berkeley and the Bay Area all the way across the bay.

Though the game day experience may not rival the one’s at some of the more top-tier programs such as Alabama or Ohio State, with its on-campus location nestled along the hills, the atmosphere and surroundings will certainly scream college game day.

Extras 0

If you have time after the game, check out the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame located outside the west end of the stadium. The HOF features 315 individuals and seven rowing teams.

As you walk along the interior concourse you will see murals honoring past Golden Bears greats such as Aaron Rogers and Marshawn Lynch, as well as other great moments in Cal Athletics, among them, The Play, one of college football’s most memorable highlights that occurred against rival Stanford in 1982 that involved several desperation laterals, the Stanford Band and its trombone player (I’m sure many of you know the story to this…)

The Cal Band is never short on entertainment, performing for fans not only throughout the game, but prior to as well, as they can be seen performing on campus at Sproul Plaza, and after the games. Often times, when the visiting school brings their band, they are invited to participate with the Cal Band.

Final Thoughts

Because most games are played during the afternoon the warm California climate and the views extending across the bay make Memorial Stadium one of college football’s more picturesque settings.The football team has seen its share of recent excitement, capped off by its recent victory over Stanford in The Big Game, bringing back The Stanford Axe for the first time in nine years.For the second year in a row, Cal will be in a post season bowl.If the exciting finish to the 2019 season is any indication, more exciting moments are ahead for the Sons of California.


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