Stadium Gym Moves Ahead; New Athletic Site Proposed

By Richard Brenneman
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:05:00 PM

While work on the new gym at Memorial Stadium moves ahead, UC Berkeley is calling for an architect to design another athletic project.  

Steel to shore up excavations for the Student Athlete High Performance Center is already on the stadium site, and construction may be completed earlier than planned, said UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof. 

The gym, a four-level partially subterranean structure, is being built at the site of the now-vanished grove which had been the site of the nation’s longest urban tree-sit. 

And while crews are preparing that site, university planners are working out the final details for renovation of the western half of the stadium itself. 

“We will be going to the regents sometime soon,” Mogulof said. 

The regents gave their approval earlier this month to a revised budget for the high tech gym project, with the budget now set at $153 million, a boost of $25 million. 

Mogulof said the additional funds were needed to cover increased construction costs, particularly labor. 

Originally, the regents had approved $100 million in external funding (borrowing) for the project, but on Feb. 5 they upped the total to $136 million. Funds anticipated from gifts were reduced by $448,000 to an even $17 million. 

Loans will be paid on an interest-only basis during construction, and the regents directed repayment to be the top priority for revenues earned from the campus football program. 

At the same meeting, the regents also approved an increase of $7.3 million in borrowing for the Biomedical and Health Sciences Building now rising along Oxford Street at the site of the old Earl Warren Hall.  

The increase in borrowing for the $266 million building was needed to cover a $4.9 million decrease in projected donations and a $2.6 million shortfall in anticipated grants from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, money raised by the statewide stem cell funding initiative. 


Indoor courts 

Meanwhile, the university’s capital projects staff has issued a call for architects to study three sites for construction of a new Intercollegiate Athletics Indoor Practice Facility. 

According to a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) issued by the university, the project would focus on men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball, to relieve pressures on Haas Pavilion and the attached Recreational Sports Facility—facilities that between them accommodate 232,000 square feet of space dedicated to athletic uses. 

According to the RFQ, the study will “explore options for a new practice facility to accommodate” programs now housed in the other two facilities. If implemented, this new space will provide flexible gym space that meets the needs of Athletics but also benefits Recreational program by freeing up RSF space during hours of heavy use.” 

One of the three sites up for consideration is the Tang Medical Building parking lot, which faces downtown Berkeley across Fulton Street between Bancroft Way and Durant Avenue. 

The lot had been designated by a subcommittee of the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee as a possible site for faculty housing, but the city has no formal say in how the university develops its property. 

UC Berkeley officials told DAPAC that the lot had been designated as a site where the university planned to erect a “surge building,” an office complex to house staff and functions displaced during mandated seismic retrofits of campus buildings. 

But in the RFQ, the university specifically called for the lot’s evaluation “in connection with potential aquatics facility.” 

The other two sites to be evaluated are the parking lot immediately north of Haas Pavilion and the eastern bleachers of Edwards Stadium, a landmark facility just across Bancroft from the Tang lot. 

Ultimately, the architect selected for the project will examine the sites, then prepare alternatives, selecting one as the preferred option, and finally prepare a presentation, study booklet and cost estimates. 

The entire study is to be completed by May. 

“It’s just an idea right now,” said Christine Shaff, communications manager for UC Berkeley’s Capital Projects staff. “The athletic department has an idea about something they might want to do. It will be a study to get more information.”