A proposal to move the 2014 Big Game to the 49ers’ new Levi Stadium in Santa Clara has Cal fans and alums angry that their school seems to be willing to sell off their traditions.
“Pretty soon the value of tradition is lost and gone,” said former Cal quarterback and coach Joe Kapp. “The changes more and more recognize the money. There won’t be traditions anymore if money rules.”
Jeffrey Warren, who first took the story public Friday through his blog, “A Cal Fan’s Notes,” was told the one-time switch would earn each school perhaps an additional $100,000 over the gate receipts of a typical Big Game.
“What they really want is to get that high-tech world involved in Cal,” said Warren, a 1970 Cal grad. “It’s a chance to showcase our product in that neighborhood. It makes sense if everything you’re about is money.”
Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour remains out of the country with the women’s basketball team. An athletic department spokesman said there would be no comment from the school because the move is only a proposal at this point.
The 49ers and Santa Clara Stadium Authority approached Cal and Stanford about bringing the Big Game to Levi Stadium in its inagural year. The Big Game, currently slotted for Berkeley in 2014, would then return to Memorial Stadium in 2015.
A decision on the move is expected this week.
For many Cal fans, this is the latest indication that Cal’s athletic administration cares only about the bottom line. Old Blues were upset with the handling of possible sport cuts two years ago and dislike late football start times dictated by TV.
“Right now, some Cal people, especially myself, we feel a disconnect with this Cal athletic administration,” said Don Miller, a 1976 Cal grad who played football and rugsby for the Bears and is vice-president for Evergood Fine Foods, a San Francisco-based sausage company.
“We’re hurting for money to pay off that stadium and it’s one of those things where they got an offer you can’t refuse.”
“I’m disgusted,” said Steve Grealish, who played football for Cal in ’73. “Coupled with the 7:30 starting time of the (season-opening) Northwestern game, it shows disregard for the fan who has been showing up to the games for 40, 50 years.
“They’re making it all for coach potatoes. I like our stadium. We put all that money in it and I’d like to play the game here.”
Warren, who hopes fan pressure can derail the proposal, said the Big Game is about more than just football.
“It’s hard to articulate the mythology that is around this event. It’s something in our hearts and dreams,” he said. “People come to the game and they point out to their kids the dorm they lived in or where they got their first kiss.
“The experience encompasses tailgating, memories and old friends. Those ghosts are all there in those stadiums. They’re trying to make it into a money-making thing.”
Follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/JeffFaraudo.