UC Berkeley is selling personal seat licenses to Cal football fans to finance the $320 million retrofit of Memorial Coliseum. The CoCo Times reports that the university hopes that the licenses, which give fans lifetime rights for choice seats and are selling for $2,700 and up, will pay off the bonds it’s floating to pay for the retrofit. The coliseum straddles the Hayward Fault and requires a major rehab to be made safe.
Although seat licenses were a massive failure at the Oakland Coliseum and ended up costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, Cal is hoping to avoid the same fate. The university was smart to grant lifetime seat rights with the licenses, which is how the San Francisco Giants succesfully marketed them to help pay for AT&T Park. The City of Oakland and Alameda County, by contrast, made a serious error when they marketed seat licenses as only a temporary right to seats, which discouraged fans from buying them and forced taxpayers to foot most of the bill for the remake of the coliseum for the Raiders. Still, selling seat licenses, which are fees on top of the price of tickets, are a gamble in the current economy and only time will tell whether the university’s plan will work.