Costs Adding Up in Memorial Stadium Suits

Officials on Both Sides of the Issue Say the Costs of The Stadium Suits Are More Than Bargained For

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The costs surrounding the lawsuits and issues over the proposed construction of an athletic center near Memorial Stadium have been considered by both sides as becoming more than either had bargained for.

While the bottom line has yet to be finalized, officials from both sides said the lawsuits and related expenditures have cost more time and money than they had hoped.

Originally, officials with the city of Berkeley said they were looking at the estimated cost of litigation to be approximately $250,000.

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates said he thought it was unfortunate that the lawsuits have gone on this long.

"I wish we could've worked it out a long time ago and come to some agreements about how to proceed rather than going to court, but I guess it was not to be," Bates said.

While campus officials did not release the cost of litigation in the lawsuits against them, as of about two weeks ago, approximately $375,000 has been spent on extra policing costs, round-the-clock security and construction of the two fences that surround the oak grove adjacent to Memorial Stadium.

The costs do not reflect what the campus spent on additional services at the grove beginning Tuesday, when officers and arborists began taking down the structures and platforms of protesters living in the trees. Since Tuesday, approximately 40 UCPD officers have stood guard around the grove throughout the day, while workers used cherry pickers and a crane to cut the tree-sitters' ropes and supplies.

Dan Mogulof, the campus' executive director of public affairs, said the funds used to cover the extra security costs come from a campus contingency fund that contains money set aside for emergency purposes.

"None of the moneys would have otherwise been available for teaching, research, or student services," Mogulof said. "These are moneys set aside for exactly these types of things."

The anticipated construction costs of the proposed athletic center are estimated to be $11 million more than what was originally expected. The delay of the project has resulted in inflation of the costs of construction, such as materials and labor, Mogulof said.

If the campus' estimates are correct, the athletic center would have cost $112 million if work began as scheduled in late 2006.

However, Mogulof said the estimates are rough and that he could not provide a comprehensive total since the project is not in its final stages.

"Anything we say is very likely to be wrong to a certain extent," Mogulof said. "You just don't know ... these things until you actually get (the project) out for bid." Mogulof said.

Michael Kelly, Panoramic Hill Association's vice president for UC relations, said the association has spent over $50,000 in litigation costs for their suit against the UC Board of Regents. The money is being raised through private donations, Kelly said.

"It's just grassroots funding," he said.

Similarly, litigation costs for the California Oak Foundation are funded by the foundation's legal fund. Officials at the foundation said costs for the suit over the grove should not have taken up so many resources.

"(The campus is) spending public money on this," said Janet Cobb, president of the foundation. "It seems like they could've come up with choosing another option site and saved everyone a lot of grief."


Angelica Dongallo is the news editor. Contact her at [email protected]

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