Final Score: Huskies 31 – Bears 7, Attendance: 44,449
Weather: Sunny and warm, 70’s; Ticket Price: $40 on Stub Hub; Parking $20
“Bearly Enjoyable” by Tree
University of California, Berkeley is simply known as Cal. Located in the hills of Berkeley, the stadium is a unique site. The stadium, itself, is rather generic, but the surroundings are stunning. The street up to the stadium is lined with fraternities and sororities. While it is a long walk, the campus and adjacent frat boys partying give it a strong college feel. Once inside the stadium, its pedestrian features become apparent. Bench seating and two average video scoreboards do nothing to set apart the stadium. However the east side is built into the hills and the trees provide a nice backdrop. The view is so nice that there are a number of fans that who climb the trees or sit at the top of the Tightwad Hill rather than buy tickets.
We bought our tickets online from Stub Hub the morning of the game and paid $40. It was a little higher than average, but it was Homecoming. While the stadium was bare bones, the simple bowl design ensured good seats for all ticket holders. Our seats were halfway up and we could easily see all the action. The concessions were primarily mass market, but there were some local vendors. It’s not every stadium that sells knishes. The bathrooms on our side of the stadium consisted of a long line of port ‘o potties. While not exactly aesthetically pleasing, the set up was surprisingly efficient. Seatbacks could be purchased at the game.
Driving to Berkeley is not easy. We arrived at the stadium very close to kickoff but my brother’s “secret” lot was not exactly that and we had to backtrack further away from campus. Twenty bucks later we were parked and ready to go. We then made the long hike up to the stadium, making a brief stop to pick up a souvenir hat. Shuttles run to the stadium from the center of town, but we were too late to catch any of those. We were coming from a cross country meet not too far from Berkeley but ran into some traffic. In general, plan on giving yourself plenty of time to get to the stadium. But why drive with a very limited tailgating scene and the efficiency of BART readily available? The University sets up a tailgating zone but does not appear to promote any traditional tailgating. We certainly didn’t see anything walking up to the stadium.
I am not sure I would characterize this as a game. It was more like a beating. Due to our parking snafu we didn’t arrive at our seats until eight minutes into the game. Unfortunately, Cal had already exhausted all of their offensive fire power. They had driven the length of the field only to fumble at the goal line which the Huskies returned a 100 yards for a touchdown. The teams then traded possessions with the Cal defense making a fourth down stand deep in their territory. The Bears offense again fumbled away the great defensive effort. Washington’s next play was a 25 yard pass touchdown and the game was pretty much over. Cal could not get anything going which was disappointing given that their offense had been averaging 30+ points a game.
For a small stadium, I thought the fan noise was impressive. I also noticed a large contingent of Huskies fans. It was much larger than the normal number of opposing fans I see at games. They were also impressively vocal. It could not have hurt that the Huskies were mauling the Bears. The other item noticeable about the fans was their varied appearance. It ran from smart casual seniors to short-short wearing coeds. Cal certainly had its fair share of beautiful people but not to the level of USC or UCLA. In general, it was pretty good people watching.
It appeared that Cal does a number of family packs to bring in extra fans. We had a family below us with two cute as-a-button youngsters watching the game. It was pretty hot so Dad got the girls some frozen lemonades. However, mom and dad were more focused on chatting up their friends instead of watching the girls. Despite the heat, the lemonade was not melting fast enough for the youngest one. Her solution was to scrape up some ice, soften it up in her mouth and then regurgitate it back into the cup. I guess she was hoping it would help melt the rest. She’d mix it some more and then take another scoop of the saliva slush puppy. That little family tableau went from picturesque to revolting quicker than a two minute drive.
I do think the family pack is the key to attending a Cal game. Given the fluctuating level of quality football, the lack of tailgating and a stadium that is about as unique as a bowl of cereal (think Cornflakes and not Count Chocula), paying $40 plus for a Cal game is not worth it. A family pack of four games with some dogs, cokes and a souvenir is a different story. Given a nice day, an easy ride on the BART and the potential of a good football game, a trip to Cal becomes much more desirable.