Cal, Oregon To Play First College Football Game At New 49ers Stadium
SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) — The first-ever college football game at the planned Levi’s Stadium will pit the University of California at Berkeley versus the University of Oregon next Oct. 24, a UC Berkeley spokesman said.
The game will be played on a Friday night after the stadium’s home team the San Francisco 49ers has already begun its 2014 season, university spokesman Herb Benenson said.
The Santa Clara Stadium Authority, which oversees the Levi’s project, announced Tuesday that it would host Berkeley’s Oct. 24 game with Oregon, the first-ever college football game at the $1.2 billion, 68,500-seat stadium.
The first contest at the planned stadium will be a professional soccer game pitting the San Jose Earthquakes against the Seattle Sounders FC on Aug. 2, according to the Levi’s Stadium website.
Paraag Marathe, the 49ers’ chief operating officer, was responsible for booking the Berkeley-Oregon game for the stadium authority, according to 49ers team spokeswoman Talia Malik.
Under Pac-12 Conference rules, Berkeley and other Pac-12 college gridiron teams must play a weekday game about once every two years for scheduling reasons, which has been challenging for Berkeley, according to Benenson.
Berkeley plays most of its games at California Memorial Stadium on campus on Saturdays when classes are out and there is plenty of parking, Benenson said.
But during a Friday or other weekday game, about 50,000 to 60,000 football fans may converge on Memorial looking for places to park next to a campus with 35,000 enrolled students, Benenson said.
When Memorial hosted a Friday game last year against the University of Washington, “we were unable to offer parking to our season ticket holders,” Benenson said.
Using Levi’s Stadium not only affords Berkeley the ability to offer fans parking, it gives the team a chance to play on a national stage, since either ESPN or the FOX network plan to televise the Bears-Ducks game live, Benenson said.
Since fewer football college games are played on weekdays, the Berkeley-Oregon game will get more exposure to TV viewers all over the country, he said.
Berkeley has not yet decided whether to ask the 49ers to allow them to play future weekday games at Levi’s, Benenson said.
“The takeaway was the opportunity to play at the stadium” this year, Benenson said.
Aside from the home game at Levi’s in 2014, Berkeley is also scheduled to host six games at Memorial and play five away games, Benenson said.
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