East Bay News

UC Berkeley defends stadium renovation plan

Friday, April 20, 2012

UC Berkeley's football team has a new problem and it has nothing to do with offense or defense. It has to do with paying for the renovations to Memorial Stadium.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the renovations are estimated to cost $321 million. The university was hoping to raise $270 million from the sale of seats -- that has failed to materialize. At the end of December, the school had collected only $31 million in the first three years of the sale. The private endowments that were supposed to pay for the bulk of the renovation were expected to come from seating endowments and naming rights.

"This is borrowed money so there is definitely a risk about being able to repay it. The question is where will the money come from? And ultimately it is a risk to the funds that support our academic program and more seriously, it's a risk to student fees," said computer science professor Brian Barsky.

Students are already paying more for tuition; it went up 17 percent last year. That is in the wake of state budget cuts passed on to the university. Over the next four years tuition is expect to go up between eight and 16 percent.

"Anybody participating in this plan knows that they have an option. You can pay up front or extend your payments over time. So some people have made commitments to pay up front, some have made commitments over time. What is more important is the total value of those commitments, which is in excessive of $144 million. That's enough to handle the debt for at least another 26 years," said Dan Mogulof of UC Berkeley Public Affairs.

Mogulof went on to say that the financial plan has been vetted through the academic senate and is online for the public to look at it. The university said they had to renovate the stadium because of earthquake safety concerns.

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