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Football: 2014 Big Game stays at Berkeley

Greeted in recent days by a firestorm of opposition from its fans, Cal announced the 2014 Big Game against Stanford will remain at Memorial Stadium and would not be moved to Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.

Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour announced the decision in a letter to fans and supporters.

Barbour said all aspects of the proposal were considered, but that the athletic department reached out to alumni, students, donors and ticket holders to solicit feedback.

“We listened to — and are grateful for — what they told us,” she wrote.

Jeffrey Warren, who broke the story last Friday that the game might be move through his blog, “A Cal Fan’s View,” was pleased.

“I”m excited. I’m happy for the kids,” said Warren, suggesting most of them wouldn’t have made the trip from Berkeley to Santa Clara. “The students would be playing beer pong in the fraternities and watching the game on TV.”

*** Click here to read Sandy Barbour’s entire letter.

The proposal to have the 2014 Big Game moved on a one-year basis to the new home of the 49ers surfaced publicly late last week, and was met with angry reponse from fans from both schools. The 49ers and the Santa Clara Stadium Authority initiated the proposal.

In particular, Cal fans felt the Santa Clara location was not a “neutral” site, and were unhappy the game was being moved in a year when the rivals were scheduled to meet in Berkeley.

The move was expected to earn both schools additional revenue beyond what the Big Game normally generates.

For many fans, selling cherished traditions to help pay down athletic department debts was not a satisfactory tradeoff.

“Pretty soon the value of tradition is lost and gone,”¬† former Cal quarterback and coach Joe Kapp said Saturday. “The changes more and more recognize the money. There won’t be traditions anymore if money rules.”

Barbour, in her letter, said all sides of the issue were considered, including “the competitive balance of our home schedule, the student-athlete experience and the game-day environment for our fans, as well as short- and long-term financial implications.”

Ultimately, Barbour said, the university decided, “it is not in Cal’s best interest to move forward with the offer.”

Still, Barbour said the athletic department will continue to try to find creative ways to help pay down the $474 million debt incurred by the renovation of Memorial Stadium and construction of a student-athlete high-performance training center.

“Although we are passing on this particular opportunity, we remain open to looking at the right set of circumstances in the future — as long as they are consistent with the values and principles that informed this specific decision,” she said.

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Jeff Faraudo