Cal’s visit to Levi’s Stadium to face Oregon on Friday, Oct. 24 may not be the Bears’ only trek to the South Bay in coming years.
Coach Sonny Dykes, while acknowledging he’d prefer never to take a home game out of Memorial Stadium, conceded it could happen again.
“I don’t know. That’s going to be something we have to talk about with our new leadership, to figure out where we’re going moving forward,“ Dykes said during Wednesday’s Bay Area College Football Media Day at the 49ers’ new home facility.
The problem is that all schools in the Pac-12 are required by the current media rights agreement to play two weeknight home games every three years. That creates a severe challenge for Cal, where parking on campus is limited. Spaces used by fans on Saturdays are taken by students, faculty and staff during the week.
“You always want to play games in your own stadium. We have one of these best venues, if not the best, in college football,” Dykes said. “Moving a game from that venue, there’s got to be a reason for it.
“This year, there’s clearly a reason, Playing on a weeknight in Berkeley is a very difficult thing to do because of classes and parking.”
Dykes said his discussions with former athletic director Sandy Barbour highlighted the benefits of giving players and fans an experience at a world-class stadium while also generating some extra money. But parking concerns were the primary issue, and one the campus has not yet solved.
Cal played Washington at home on a weeknight in 2012, so beginning in 2015 the Bears must schedule two more weeknight home games over the next three years.
Unless the athletic department develops a creative parking solution, another trip to Levi’s Stadium could be in the Bears’ future.
“The No. 1 thing is always trying to keep a competitive advantage,” Dykes said. “But there are other considerations that you have to take into account always. It’s not ideal, but I think it’s the best case scenario.”
Senior center Chris Adcock said he and his teammates are excited about the game.
“This is going to be another great opportunity to bring the Cal fans out and make Levi’s Stadium (into) Bear Territory,” he said.
“That’s the goal and we’re going to play like that,” defensive end Brennan Scarlett added.
Scarlett knows not every Cal fan wants to trek to Santa Clara for a game originally scheduled to be played in Berkeley.
“I definitely understand where they’re coming from because Memorial Stadium is a great place to play,” he said. “But this is also a really cool opportunity for us to play here.”
Dykes said the Bears should be excited to play the first college game in the stadium that will host the Super Bowl a year later.
“All that is something these guys will remember for the rest of their lives.”