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Environmental study finds no significant impact in adding permanent lights to Memorial Stadium
16 Jun 2000

By Marie Felde, Media Relations

UPDATE: A second community meeting will be held at the lower level Unit 1 Recreation Room (enter off Channing Way) from 7 to 9 p.m. on July 20. Public comments through July 24, 2000.

Images: Full-color photo simulations (revised 12 Jul 2000)

Berkeley - A study examining whether adding permanent lights for football games at Memorial Stadium at the University of California, Berkeley, could affect scenic vistas and the historic nature of the stadium, among other issues, has concluded that there would be no significant impact on the environment.

The focused environmental study, called an Initial Study under the California Environmental Quality Act, was issued today (Friday, June 16). A community meeting has been scheduled for June 29 at 7 p.m. in the Hall of Fame Room at the stadium. Public comments on the environmental study are being sought through July 17.

The 29-page study with more than 100 pages of appendices examines a number of environmental aspects including aesthetics, which takes into account scenic vistas, the visual character of the area and its surroundings, and glare from lights. It also assesses potential impacts on cultural resources such as whether the proposed project would alter the historical significance of Memorial Stadium, built in 1923. In all cases, the report found, the proposed project would not have a significant impact on the environment.

The lights will be used for football games only. In all, it is anticipated that the lights will be used no more than four to six times each year.

The campus proposes to install nine free-standing poles and light fixtures around the outside perimeter of the 70,000-seat stadium. The poles would extend from 65 to 70 feet above the rim of the stadium. The dimensions of the banks of lights would range from 8 feet high by 18 feet across to 12 1/2 feet high by 20 feet across.

The permanent lights originally were scheduled to be installed for last fall's football season. When neighbors who live in the hills near the stadium raised specific concerns, the campus agreed to put the project on hold until questions about the impact of installing permanent lights could be assessed.

In the past, temporary lights were trucked to the stadium and set up for late-afternoon televised games. But Fox television, which televises most of the games, needs permanent lighting installed and is paying for the installation. Television revenue, which is a major source of income for the campus's athletics program, averages approximately $250,000 a game. All collegiate stadiums in the Pac 10 conference now either have permanent lights or are in the process of installing them for television broadcasts.

The state's guidelines do not require an environmental assessment for the stadium lights to be installed, according to UC Berkeley planners. However, last fall the campus agreed to do the Initial Study at the request of neighbors and to have it prepared by outside environmental consultants.

In addition, the campus has hired a professional firm do to visual simulations to illustrate what the poles and light standards will look like from various points. Full-color photo simulations are included in the Initial Study.

The proposed lighting will be designed to prevent "spill over" into the surrounding neighborhood and is expected to decrease the light glare that had been generated by the temporary lights. The campus also has offered to send lighting engineers to individual homes at the request of homeowners to tune the lights to ensure there is no glare into the houses.

Installation of the lights is anticipated to begin in mid-to-late summer and take three months to complete.



Images: Full-color photo simulations (revised 12 Jul 2000)


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