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Letter to the editor: Memorial Stadium article regarding seating sales trend is misleading

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OCTOBER 23, 2012

The errors and omissions in your recent story about Memorial Stadium and the Endowment Seating Program begin in the headline and continue throughout the body of what is a misleading article.

The headline described ESP’s finances as “empty coffers.” This is wording that is both dramatic and false. In fact, cash received to date by the ESP program exceeds $40 million, and the value of seats sold exceeds $140 million. I wish all of our coffers were that “empty”! This information was provided to the reporter and has been online for weeks at calbears.com.
The story also failed to mention that as a result of ESP sales to date, Cal Athletics’ ability to service the debt has been secured for at least the next 20 years. In short, the coffers may not be as full as we would like, but they are far from being empty, and we have plenty of time to get them filled.

The description of recent ESP sales trends also omits key information provided to the reporter. To put it bluntly, there has been no decline in seats sold. Again, the information is all there on the Cal Athletics site:

“The fourth-quarter report for the Endowment Seating Program (ESP) shows 1,745 seats sold as of June 30, 2012, with an additional 131 seat pledges in progress. Between the close of the fiscal year and the posting of this report on Sept. 10, 2012, 71 of those 131 seats have been finalized, while 28 of the remaining 60 seats in progress belong to one account that is modifying its contract by one seat. Total cash received is $40,739,318, an increase of $5.5 million since the end of the third quarter on March 31, 2012. For the entire fiscal year, 201 new seats were sold within the ESP sections, and more than 15 accounts chose to upgrade their seats to a higher club level, resulting in a corresponding increase in commitment to the program.”

It may not have been intentional, but this news story simply advances a particular point of view by ignoring established points of fact. The campus community deserves better, and we will be submitting to the Daily Cal a detailed, factual account of where we are in terms of the stadium’s finances and all that is being done to honor our commitment to avoid the use of campus funds for servicing and repayment of the debt.

— Dan Mogulof,
UC Berkeley executive director of the Office of Public Affairs

Contact the opinion desk at [email protected]

OCTOBER 23, 2012