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?