California Memorial Stadium – California Golden Bears
Rockin’ in Berkley
Cal Football may not be the program it once was, contending for national titles or making a push for the big post-season bowls it was used to in the past, but the program is no less exciting to watch. Add to this a newly renovated stadium, a prime location for fans both entertainment and weather-wise, and you have a mix for one of the best game day experiences in all of college football. Cal fans are loyal, loud, and proud, and there is little question as to why this stadium ranks among some of the best when it comes to must-see events in college sports.
Food & Beverage 4
The concessions at Cal are spread out pretty well, with stands and vendors along the main concourse on the front side of the stadium at ground level, as well as along the upper concourse on the back side of the stadium. Food offerings range from the standard hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, and pretzels, with a soda costing just $4.
Food options include the ever popular HHHot Link ($5), pulled pork BBQ sandwiches ($9), fresh juicy BBQ brisket ($10), chicken apple sausages ($5), and chicken and waffles ($11). Candy, bags of chips, and other snacks are also available, as is a wide selection of beer.
The fans at Cal know how to rock a stadium atmosphere. The facility itself is full of college football history. All around, you can tell this place has seen some of the greats pass through its gates.
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 field itself. Here also resides the victory cannon, which is fired after each Cal scoring play and after each victory.
The stadium itself resembles the classic bowl designs of famed stadiums like the Rose Bowl, Michigan Stadium, and the L.A. Colosseum. The fans cheer and roar with the best in college football, creating a definite home field advantage for Cal, especially during big games and conference matchups. The stadium also features great sightlines no matter where you sit, making the stadium one with a great view regardless of what section you are sitting in.
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.
Berkeley is a fantastic area, situated just across the bay from San Francisco. The weather is almost always perfect in the bay area, meaning it is never too hot nor too cold no matter when the games are played at Cal.
The immediate area is part of the university, meaning you get the college feel while walking to the stadium. In addition, the drive across the bridge to San Francisco means you are just a few minutes away from one of the best and most entertaining cities in America, with no shortage of things to do or places to see.
When looking for food in the area, Gypsy’s Trattoria Italiana and Pappy’s Grill & Sports Bar are popular spots among both locals and students alike. Hotels are also plentiful in the area, with The Graduate Berkeley and Hotel Shattuck Plaza being the closest to the stadium. Sightseers can drive across the Bay Bridge to San Francisco and visit the San Francisco National Maritime Historic Park, or take a drive north to the Rosie The Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park.
Cal fans show up to their football games, regardless of who is on the schedule. Whether they’re facing off against an SEC opponent like Ole Miss, or a Mountain West foe like San Diego State, the Golden Bear faithful show up in full force. The student section never stops cheering, and the band never stops playing to help propel their team to victory. Local support is also high, with fans and families from all around the greater bay area making the trek to Cal to watch college football on a cool fall evening; some NCAA teams dream of the fan support Cal gets even with its less than successful records of late. Nevertheless, Cal fans know how to party and make sure that is evident at each game.
Getting to Cal isn’t inherently difficult, but California’s notorious traffic can make the trek to campus a bit of a haul. Once you get to campus, parking is plentiful but not exactly cheap. Prime spots at homes or frat houses near campus can run upwards of $60-$80 for parking, while lots and garages half a mile away cost $15-$20. If you are willing to walk, which will most assuredly be an uphill trek, you can park for less than a parking pass would cost on site and get to the stadium. Also, there is plenty of public transportation available, be it on a bus or the BART line that runs near campus.
Return on Investment 4
Prices for tickets are relatively low compared to what most would expect from a Power 5 conference college football program. Tickets in the end zone can be as low as the $20 range, and go up from there. At California Memorial Stadium, though, it is all about the game day experience, and the atmosphere is a great value, with tickets and concessions running about what most would expect for a decent seat and a few meals for the family. You really get to immerse yourself in the college feel when you come to Cal, and considering the alternatives in some FBS stadium, that is something that is well worth the price of admission.
The new renovation means a newly designed interior at the entrances. In addition, just inside the main entrance fans can see a hall of fame and trophy display, showing the team’s successes from years past.
The fans on “tightwad hill” also give the game day experience an added boost, as do the cannon blasts after each Cal scoring play.
During the game, Cal’s mascot interacts with the fans, and always has time for photos with the kids.
Cal’s band is also one of the best around, giving the game that true college feel, while never missing a single note.
While some fans may discount Cal’s stadium experience when considering a sports stop in the bay area due to its recent records, that would be a great mistake. Cal provides one of the most exciting, passionate, and overall enjoyable sports atmospheres in all of California, if not the country. The team is chock full of history in college football, and lately seems to be on an upward swing. You can take it to the bank that this experience is not one to be missed for college football fans, no matter where your allegiances lie.
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Latest Crowd Reviews
The Bay Area is known for some of the best weather in the nation, and September afternoons are its specialty. You can’t ask for a better showcase for new Memorial Stadium than that. The new layout of the stadium is much like the old one in that it still has its distinctive bowl style, creating good angles from whichever price range you occupy. Its position, nestled in the hill, allows for a unique collegiate experience in the form of “Tightwad Hill.” There are always a few dozen people amongst the trees, catching the game for free. From what I could gather, there was nothing much in the way of tailgating. Most people parked in generic parking lots and walked from there. I did find that many people packed lunches and beers and found a shady spot on campus to imbibe. The campus cops didn’t seem to mind the open consumption of alcohol, although I never saw any of the tell-tale signs of crazy parties, they were all subdued. Also, the environmentally conscience Berkeley residents picked up after themselves, leaving no trace behind.