25 September 2008

Memorial Stadium retrofit solution

Carolyn Jones, who has recently covered the A's stadium beat, has her sights set slightly north in her new article. This time the stadium in question is Cal's Memorial Stadium, which as longtime Bay Area residents know, sits smack-dab on top of the Hayward Fault.

Lost in all the hubbub about the new, adjacent athletic training center and the oak grove that it is displacing, is the sobering fact that the old stadium was in poor shape in the event of The Big One. For the Bears to continue playing there into the distant future, a retrofit is needed.

Thankfully, it appears that a group of seismic engineers has figured out a way to do it for about the cost of Mt. Davis (not adjusting for inflation). Here's the description of the major part of the solution:
At Memorial Stadium, the sections directly on top of the fault will be cut into three large free-floating blocks. The blocks will be separated from the surrounding structure by five feet of open space, which will give the blocks room to wobble and twist - but not topple - in the event of an earthquake.
Normally stadia have simple expansion joints in decks and walls to handle various types of jostling. This takes that idea to the extreme. By cutting gaps in the two fault-affected stadium sections and splitting each one into three independent pieces, the edifice is being split into two "halves" with what could be considered free-floating end sections sitting on plastic. The free-floating ends could slide around when an earthquake hits, while the two halves would move in accordance with their respective plates.

$150 million won't just pay for a few saws and plastic sheeting. There's a regular retrofit too along the western side:
The western half of the stadium will undergo a standard retrofit, with bracing, sheer walls and an extra layer of concrete coating the interior. The concrete will have breaks at either end over the fault, so if the stadium cracks it will crack in a designated and relatively clean way.
This is important because unlike the eastern side and the old Stanford Stadium, this side is not built into a hill. It's old, decaying reinforced concrete with access tunnels and vomitories.

I for one am glad to hear about this simple, sensible plan. At a time when numerous Division I-A/Bowl Subdivision teams are building bigger and more expensive expansions onto their existing stadia, it's nice to see that UC is working to preserve the current experience while fulfilling a great need in seismic safety.

Now the remaining question is: Will Jeff Tedford still be there when the retrofit is done?


Anonymous said...

THE A’S have done everything possible to alienate their Oakland fans but managing partner Lew Wolff apparently thought they hadn’t gone far enough, so he chose the occasion of a talk to the Boosters club last week to say that, if they couldn’t realize their fantasy of a new park in Fremont, they might have to move the team out of California.

That’s an empty threat. There are no cities that would be more hospitable to the A’s, beyond the original couple of honeymoon years, than Oakland has been. Remember when teams, including the Giants, eyed Tampa/St. Petersburg longingly? Yeah, that’s really worked out well.

If the A’s have a marketing plan at all, there’s no evidence of it. They’ve closed off the upper deck, with its low-priced seats but great views, supposedly to increase their season ticket base, which it hasn’t. They raised prices this year and then conducted a year-long audition of minor league players. Their radio broadcasts have featured frequent commercials about getting tickets for Cisco Field early. Yeah. You can put those in your safe deposit box, right alongside your Lehman Bros. stock certificates.

They badly need a network of radio stations that can actually be heard further than 10 miles from the station. I’ve suggested KRTB, a 50,000-watt station in San Francisco, and I know from talking to executives at the station that they’d love to have the A’s. When I was riding in the elevator last week with Ken Pries, head of the A’s broadcasting division, I asked him how negotiations were going with KRTB. “Don’t believe everything you read in the newspapers,” he said. I asked him, “Including what I write?”

Wolff’s outburst at the Boosters meeting was no doubt a part of his frustration. He undoubtedly told Don Fisher, who put up most of the money for the purchase of the club, that he could put together a stadium/real estate plan that would make a big profit for both of them. He thought he could do it in San Jose until his friend, baseball commissioner Bud Selig, told him he couldn’t get past the provision in the Giants contract with MLB that another club couldn’t be established in Santa Clara County. The ballpark plan would have worked in San Jose, but it won’t fly in Fremont.

Even with their low attendance, the A’s are making money because of their low payroll. If Wolff and Fisher sell the club, they’ll make a profit because the value of all baseball franchises has risen since they bought into the club. I wish they’d sell to somebody who’s interested in baseball, not real estate.

- glenn

Marine Layer said...

And what exactly does this have to do with Memorial Stadium?

Next time, please paste into the correct comment thread.

Anonymous said...

While you're at it, come up with your own opinions and stop parroting Mr. Dickey's.

Now back on topic, the retrofit and new athletic facilities are intended to keep Tedford around. I hope it does the trick.