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Stadium lighting creates neighborhood heat

By John Geluardi Daily Planet staff
Monday May 21, 2001

A plan to install permanent lighting inside UC Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium has Panoramic Hill residents worried that glaring, unsightly lighting towers will be visible from all over the city. 

“The lighting stands will be visible from all around Berkeley,” said Mike Kelly, a neighbor of the stadium. “They’ll stick up from behind the Campanile like big ugly scarecrows.”  

According to a letter to the president of the Panoramic Hill Association from Jacki Bernier, the University’s principal planner, the idea of retractable lighting has been rejected by planners because of the high cost. The retractable lighting stands would not be visible during the day or when the stadium was not in use at night, Bernier added. 

The idea of permanent lighting at the stadium is unnecessary at best, Kelly said. The university has an average of one or two games a year, he added. 

“In the last 15 years there have been no more than nine night games,” he said. 

Kelly said Fox Television, which televises all the PAC 10 games, brings in temporary lights for those games.  

Panoramic Hill President Janice Thomas said that the lighting will likely increase the number of games played at the stadium at night. “This is a stadium that’s built on top of residential neighborhood,” she said. “With night games you’ll have as many as 75,000 pouring out at 11 p.m. at night, and besides traffic we’re bound to have rowdiness and drunkenness.” 

Thomas also said the glare from lighting would be intrusive. 

The university is planning to begin seismic work that will include shoring up the stadium’s north and south zones and constructing a new two-story press box. Bernier’s letter said the permanent lighting would likely be a part of the seismic work. 

In her letter, Bernier wrote that no lights would be installed for the 2001 football season. She added that the university is continuing to study the possibility of installing permanent lighting, she said, “with the goal of finding a solution that mitigates the neighbor’s most pressing concerns.”