Berkeley’s new stadium put it $445 million in debt

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Robby Soave Reporter
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The University of California at Berkeley is struggling to pay off debts stemming from its fancy new stadium and athletic center, which cost a whopping $445 million.

To help recoup the costs, the university planned to sell extra expensive lifetime tickets for between $40,000 and $250,000 a seat. But officials — who planned to sell 3,000 tickets by this month — admitted recently that they were only halfway to their goal, and sales are tapering off. Several buyers even canceled their ticket purchases, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

A finance expert said the university’s efforts to make money off the stadium were likely doomed.

“My guess is the incremental revenue from the stadium is not going to be even close to paying off the structural deficit,” said Roger Noll, an emeritus professor at Stanford University, in a statement.

“They never should have done this,” said Brian Barsky, a professor of computer science at UC-Berkeley and stadium critic, in a statement.

Other critics worried that Berkeley would have trouble financing any and all other projects for the foreseeable future.

The university is attempting to professionalize its athletic program in order to generate more revenue from ticket sales. But many universities with popular and well-established sports teams have trouble making money off them, and the academic side rarely benefits, a Daily Caller News Foundation analysis found.

The University of California has a funny history of passing the cost of its blunders onto students. Several years ago, students filed a class action lawsuit against the university for raising tuition without giving proper notice in the 2003-04 school year. The university lost the case — and raised tuition to pay its $100 million legal fee.

“The university lost a lawsuit against students and made them pay for it,” said student regent Jonathan Stein during a meeting last March at which time the board of regents extended a tuition surcharge to cover the costs of the lawsuit.

“I don’t know what to say,” said UC President Mark Yudof, in response to Stein. “Where would you have us take the money?”

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