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Football: Cal fans push back on proposed 2014 Big Game move to new Levi Stadium

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.

Jeff Faraudo

  • http://BigOldBear Carl Kuhn

    This is a “win-win-win” deal for Stanford. An extra game in their backyard, an
    improvement in scheduling (Cal and Notre Dame at home are separated to alternate years) and the money ($100k?).
    At a minimum, Cal should receive the whole $200k. Stanford would still want the deal.
    But, in lieu of moving the game I would be relatively certain that our faithful alumni
    could and would easily pony up the $100k in a manner similar to bailing out the baseball team, assuming $100k is the only reason we might make the move.
    We built this beautiful new facility, let’s use it.

  • Big Old Bear

    This is a “win-win-win” deal for Stanford. An extra game in their backyard, an improvement in their scheduling (Cal and Notre Dame are separated to alternate years) and the money ($100k?).
    At a minimum, Cal should receive the whole $200k. Stanford would still welcome the deal.
    But, in lieu of moving the game I would be relatively certain that our faithful alumni could and would easily pony up $100k in a manner similar to bailing out the baseball team, assuming $100k is the only reason we might make the move.
    We built this beautiful new facility, now let’s use it.

  • Luckypaul

    Jeff: please keep covering this horrible idea. If the Big Game moves to Stanford territory–I mean the new Niners stadium–for money, then it means the game is only about money to Cal. If Cal wants to have pro teams (for money) count me out and start paying the players.

    Class of ’84

  • roham

    I envy folks like Warren, Kapp, etc, they dont have to see this circus that much longer. i am young, though pretty old at heart, love the traditions, and have to live through this for many more decades, god help me.

  • Hungry

    Sorry but I’m neutral on this, if it benefits Cal short and long run (even out the schedule on the odd / even years). College sports have become commercialized whether you like it or not, so if this helps boosting the income and publicity for recruitment then I’m for it. It’s not like we had a choice of not upgrading facility & stadium. The money has to come from somewhere to support it.

  • BlueNGold

    The AD’s office says its ‘only a proposal’ at this point, but others are reporting that it is virtually a done deal. If so, WTF?? How could the DIA do that without seeking any input from alums, students and fans first? If people thought that attendance at the AT&T home games was poor, wait until we are asked to schlep down to Santa Clara for a so-called (big joke here) ‘neutral site’ game.

  • 77Bear

    Sudden thought on why this may be happening. LEVI Stadium = Levi Strauss =
    Major Cal supporters. If Cal goes along with this – do you think??????

  • 707 Bear

    As Gordon Geko said, “It’s all about the bucks kid, the rest is conversation.”

    Next up, a 9PM Pacific start for games. There may be a drunk in an east coast bar that needs a fix of PAC 12 football after midnight.

    I’ll be thinking of all the penthouse PAC 12 executives as I down my third Red Bull on my way home from Saturday’s game (it will be way into Sunday before I get home).

    Still, can’t wait for Go Bears!

  • Uh Huh!

    Or, you could just acquiesce to it all and watch on tv.
    I loved going to games as a kid bc it meant we could tailgate, and everyone socialized and had fun. We expected to lose, and did, so it wasnt about winning. But grandma’s been too old to do that for probably 20 years now, and grandpa is no longer with us, so it has become more ceremonial to attend. Grandma won’t go to the night games, either. The times have been a-changin for a good while. It IS all a business.

    I will hold on to tradition in my memories.

  • YouSeeBee

    We’ve got bigger problems than this if our fans’ idea of tradition is tailgating before a loss. I’d rather win, even if we have to shake some things up a bit to do so. This is much less jarring than playing the Game in October.

  • http://aol PeteBear

    how hard can this be. here is the email to AD SB: Been supporting the team for many years. but I don’t buy no multi-tick season tix next year if the Cal/furd game is not in our new house (which I am otherwise willing to continue to help paying for). love, Pete Bear.

    Send yours now or quit yapping.

  • The Wisdom Cow

    If I throw out the money aspects completely, I’m fine with the idea. You are full of crap if you think Levi stadium is “Stanfurd Territory.” So long as they are a top 10 team and Cal is fodder, the Bay is theirs.

    I like making the game a higher profile event outside of Cal and Stanfurd alums.

  • H8sRed

    Why did we spend nearly half a billion dollars on facilities if we’re not going to use them? If Stanford really wants to host Cal and Notre Dame on alternate years, Cal should demand two game in a row in Berkeley, especially since the change would mean Cal would be hosting Stanford and u$c in the same season.

    Moreover, did we not learn from the lackluster attendance at Candlestick and AT&T in 2011? I’ve been a Cal fan for nearly 40 years, but I will NOT support this idiocy by attending a neutral site Big Game.