Real Madrid to play Inter Milan on grass (!) at UC Berkeley


Real Madrid star player Cristiano Ronaldo likes pointing to himself. Photo:

Real Madrid and Inter Milan will meet in the first-ever international soccer match at Cal Memorial Stadium on July 26.

For fans of what the rest of the world calls football, the chance to see two of the most storied teams in the game on — for this game only — natural grass at Memorial Stadium should prove a treat. The teams are playing in the confected International Champions Cup, which brings eight great European squads for a round of so-called friendly matches in the U.S. 

“It’s a unique opportunity to bring two of the world’s biggest soccer clubs to the world’s leading public university,” said UC Berkeley vice chancellor for administration and finance John Wilton at the announcement of the game Friday. “It’s part of our strategy to diversify revenues, and financially support our athletics programs and our core mission of excellence and access in academics and research. As part of the agreement, 25% of the soccer match guarantee will be dedicated to academic scholarship support.”

Under new vice chancellor for real estate Robert Lalanne, the university has become far more focused on generating revenues from its property assets (as well as finding savings in operations). The thoroughly renovated stadium now contains office and classroom space, as well as facilities for parties and conferences.

Real Madrid has won a record nine European Cup/UEFA Champions League titles (and will play for the decima against Atletico Madrid on May 24). Inter Milan (for the politically minded) is Milan’s non-Berlusconi team, with 18 scudetti (Italian league championships) and three European Cup titles.

Real Madrid no longer boasts about a team of galacticos (a few years of losses to Barcelona put paid to that idea), but does star Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Wales’ Gareth Bale, Croatia’s Luka Modric and Spain’s Xabi Alonso. Inter will finish a historically poor fifth in Italy’s Serie A, but has a team packed with great Argentine players, including Walter Samuel, Esteban Cambiasso and Diego Milito.

The match in Berkeley will be less than two weeks after the World Cup finals in Brazil, which could affect the availability of some of the star players.

Tickets for the general public for the July 26 match go on sale this Friday, May 16 at 9 a.m., with prices starting at $45. Cal season ticket holders, students, faculty and staff can buy tickets before the Friday sale date.

Old Cal Memorial Stadium for sale, one bleacher at a time (06.27.12)
Cal Memorial Stadium unveiled after 21-month renovation (08.27.12)
With Stadium reopening near, Cal revamps ticket sales (08.07.12)
Final section of press box is installed at Memorial Stadium (10.13.11)
UC Berkeley’s best work on renovating Memorial Stadium (09.09.11)
Inside Berkeley’s newest, most discreet building (08.08.11)

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  • guest

    Fun! But wow, they’re going to install real grass for one event, really?! Wonder what they’re going to do with all that sod when the game is over?

  • Cal grad

    The new UC real estate vice chancellor has no understanding that previous events for outside groups held at the stadium had very bad results. The stadium is accessed by residential streets that make the area extremely congested. This in the worst fire season we have ever had. And not to forget the Hayward Fault running underneath the stadium. The stadium is also the only high risk terrorist site on campus.

    UC rented the stadium to the Raiders with very bad impacts on neighbors from Claremont Elmwood to the stadium. Then council member Sue Hone got the council to impose a tax on game tickets. The court upheld the City.

    UC Chancellor and Berkeley mayor Loni Hancock agreed to use the stadium for a McCartney concert. People without tickets trespassed private properties, and climbed trees attempting to see inside the stadium. The sound caused windows of nearby homes to squeal. One nearby resident had just come home from brain surgery. The sound was so loud, complaints came in from Montclair. The vice chancellor in charge of the event said afterwards he had no idea it would be so bad. Yale cancelled its McCartney concert because of the problems in Berkeley. And the homeless shelter promised was never built.

    Of course UC has to make money. The Regents agreed upon a financial plan to retrofit the stadium that had never been tested and the plan is NOT working. The group that is bringing the soccer players obviously are trying to make a profit for themselves. One of them is 38 year old venture capitalist, Gary Vaynerchuk.

    He knows nothing about the problems of the area either, and probably cares less.
    For further information about use of the stadium, please take a look at declaration from former Deputy Fire Chief Dave Orth. The situation is NOT any better.

  • Cal grad
  • Rachel Anderson

    My UEFA-obsessed Berkeley household is giddy with this news. We, too, quickly figured out that the most reliable gridlock-free transportation to and from the match will likely be our own feet.

  • guest

    I fail to see how the impacts to the neighborhood of a soccer match will be any different than the impacts of the football games that have been held there routinely for 90 years. Cal Memorial stadium is an underutilized gem. I hope we see more international soccer matches there in the years to come. Also, Go Bears!

  • Bishop George Berkeley

    Per the presser, they are donating it locally to park(s) or group(s) in need. No specifics given.

  • Cal grad

    Legal agreements trump 80 year history. I am part of the UC .erkeley generation that did not revere Cal football. Besides, in case you do not realize, soccer is not Cal football.
    Read this link. The situation is far worse now than it was when the Berkeley Deputy Fire Chief gave his deposition.

  • BahHumbug

    You must be a blast at parties.

  • Cal grad

    Yes, the link is not copying completely.
    Some excerpts: “I, David Orth, declare:
    1. I am the Deputy Fire Chief for the City of Berkeley. In that capacity I am responsible for Operations, Emergency Medical Services Training, Fire Prevention and the Office of Emergency Services for the City of Berkeley. I have over 28 years of experience with the Berkeley Fire Department, and have worked as a Chief Officer in the department for over 14 years. I am the primary representative for the Fire Department with the University of California on development projects and response time.
    2. The Berkeley Fire Department provides emergency response protection for fire and life safety to the University of California, Berkeley and the City of Berkeley.

    9. The location of the Stadium located on an active earthquake fault in a hazardous fire area and listed by State and Federal officials as a high-risk target served by limited and convoluted road network makes no sense. To increase activity at many levels at an already dangerous location makes no sense. The expectation that crowds of thousands of people can be safely and quickly egressed from this area whether on foot or in cars, which is worse, by City Public Safety agencies based on the planning and capacity in place makes no sense.”

    Signed under penalty of perjury December 18, 2006.

    UC argues that it is not increasing activities, but UC Bears now have more home games as part of Pac 10. AND, it talks about using the stadium even more

  • batardo

    So according to Wiki there’s about 80,000 square feet in a standard soccer pitch, and if I extrapolate the sod cost from at about 25 cents/sqft. the total value of the sod is $20,000.

    Donation sounds nice enough, but I don’t see how it’s economical compared to having it delivered in fresh rolls. Not only would one have to marshal the equipment AND labor to go out and re-roll it up, but installation will be harder too since you’ll be dealing with broken up pieces. I call bullsh*t on that idea, sounds like something the PR folks just made up.

    One more thing — sod usually has a plastic mesh embedded in the dirt/roots to hold the rolls together too, so I suspect it will end up being scooped up with a front-end loader and sent to the landfill.

    Interesting follow-up item for a bored reporter with nothing but time on his or her hands, see where the sod ends up.

  • Bryan Garcia

    If things like this are an issue for you, you *probably* shouldn’t have moved right next door to a massive stadium.

  • brian

    seems like students cannot pre-purchase :(

    Cal’s Endowment Seating Program (ESP) club members, Cal athletics donors and letterwinners and Cal season-ticket holders (football, men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball) will have exclusive windows to purchase tickets in advance of the general public on-sale date. They will receive an email in advance with detailed information.

    …unless someone has other info??? pretty please???

  • guest

    The document you quote does not contain legal arguments. It contains the expert opinion of one person. Notwithstanding this expert’s opinion regarding the public safety risks posed by a stadium in this location, the stadium renovation was approved by the building and planning authorities with jurisdiction and upheld in court. So we’ve decided as a community, over the objections of some (including you, obviously), that a stadium at this location is appropriate and desirable.

    Also, the declaration you cite relates to public safety, not to impacts on the neighborhood. Unless you moved to the neighborhood prior to 1923, the impacts associated with use of the stadium for major sporting events shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.

    Sounds to me like you’re still bitter about the decision to move ahead with the stadium, so you’d like to punish UC and the taxpayers by making it as difficult as possible for UC to make economically viable use of the stadium.

  • Cal grad

    Yes, the declaration is about public safety.
    There also is an legal agreement about games in the stadium.
    You demonstrate in writing that you have no idea whatsoever about the facts. Instead you make ad hominem attacks.

  • Mbfarrel

    I found this via Google. Does it sum up the legal agreement well? Would you care to add specifics and the legal basis for your objection to this event?
    And this?

  • brian

    much love is flowing your way, THANKS!

  • Cal grad

    Why do you ASSUME I reside right next to the stadium? Apparently you do not realize very many people in Berkeley are badly impacted by use of the stadium. UC Regents would have done the community a huge favor in 1923 had they not built it on top of the Hayward Fault, nor in an extreme fire zone. And current UC Regents would have done the community a huge favor had they relocated the stadium instead of getting California law, that forbids building on an earthquake fault, changed so they could.

  • Bishop George Berkeley

    True, it could be nothing more than PR. But some of your specifics might be mistaken. To wit–

    They’ll have the cost of removal anyway, since it has to be taken away. They can’t bulldoze b/c they can’t damage the fake stuff underneath. So it could be that re-rolling is, in fact, exactly how they remove it anyway.

    Dumping the stuff has a cost, too. You can’t just roll down to 4th street and deposit 80K ft2 of sod without cost. Heck, just trucking it out to the commercial composters is gonna cost a fortune. So…maybe between that and the tax write-off, it actually does make sense to donate. Lord knows there are some local fields that could use new (oops, slightly used) sod.

    Also, sod is now commonly (dunno if always) made with a plastic mesh that is supposed to biodegrade.

  • Current European Champions Real Madrid will be looking to win against Inter. Hope Toni Kroos will make his debut against Inter Milan. thanks for sharing it.

  • M

    No stars except for Gareth Bale at the game. We need a refund. Please send $50-$75 to each ticket holder for the absence of actual talent. No one paid to see the B team. Rip-off!

  • Nunya Beeswax

    On the day of the match, traffic was backed up on College all the way down Broadway. That’s a long way from “right next door” to Memorial Stadium.