Beyond the Coliseum (The Blog Edition): Tightwad Hill turns 90 – 3/4/2013

The following is a report done by AFR show producer Keith “Cpl RFA” Salminen, who has also been a member of Tightwad Hill since 2002 and was sworn in as the Hill’s 30th Governor on 11/10/2013 after the Cal-Oregon game. What unfolds is Keith’s best acounts of the info he has learned of what has taken place on the greatest place to watch a football game on the planet since 1923’s slopes during the past 90 seasons.

More info on Tightwad Hill can be viewed on their official Facebook page:

Twd_Hill_90th_logoMany people have been to or know of Tightwad Hill, the steep slope with trees that people are spotted on during California Golden Bears football homes games above California Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, California. What some may not know is the back story of all that has gone down at this wacky but great place during its 90 years.

The Beginning: 1920’sconstructionofmemorialstadium image[8]Early construction photos of California Memorial Stadium and the area that would become known as Tightwad Hill. The stadium was built from 1921-1923.

The story starts, as pointed out with the help of the photos above, that California Memorial Stadium was bulit between 1921 & 1923. It is the third stadium the team has played in on the Berkeley campus: The first one being a field at the site of what is now the Life Sciences Building known as “West Field” from 1885 to 1903 and the second one closer to the center of campus, on the site where Hearst Gymnasium is now located called California Field from 1904 to 1923. For those that remember the tree sitters before the stadium renovations started in the late 2000’s, the orignial construction even sparked some protest in the 1920’s when Strawberry Canyon was picked as the site.

The stadium, as seen in the photo below, hosted its first game & Cal victory on November 24th, 1923 in a 9-0 win over Stanford in the 29th Big Game. 73,000 filled the stands of California Memorial Stadium (official capacity was 72,609 at the time) for its opening game, with another 7,000 fans perched on Big C Hill, which is what became known as Tightwad Hill.


More on the years of the stadium being built as well as photos of its construction and photos taken of West Field and California Field can be veiewed at The House that Andy Built: The Making of Memorial Stadium.

1930’s-1980’s: frat houses & secrets, the start of “The Governor” and adapting to the times

Most of the years from the 1930’s through most of the 1980’s photo wise and story wise is ether lost or only known to a few. Members of the hill though are working with getting with UC Berkeley members on seeing how far back photo wise they can dig things up as students and facuilty have watched games on the Hill since pretty much day 1 in 1923.

What is known is that during most of those years, the Hill was ran by the campus frat houses, which led to the start of “The Governor” that is still in use today. 30 people have been sworn in to govenern the hill since 1923, but only the names of the last two are known due to the many secrets that each frat house was known to guard and still guard to this day. There is also a chance that a Cal version of Skull & Bones known as “Skull & Key” ran the Hill for a few years. Like the city surounding it, the campus and the Hill adapted to the culture of the times and lead to still seeing forms of the 60’s counter culture present on it today.

The late 1980’s to Now

From the late 80’s to now, the Hill on game days can filled with people from all walks of life. Fans of diffrent pro sports teams in the region have been know to have a few spat of words before the game, but come kickoff they set those beside and cheer on the Golden Bears. The Hill did for a small time in the start of 1990’s fell into a state of disrepair filled with trash. In the mid 90’s was when retired Navy SEAL Tad III became 29th Govenor of Tightwad and lead a mass reform effort to keep the Hill looking spotless. Many of the trash cans seen on the Hill now for when its time to “CLEAN UP THE HILL!” from Tad’s efforts over the years as well as with the help of other fellow Tightwads. While the team was known more for its struggles leading up to the Jeff Tedford years, the Hill would still be filled with people, having a great time regardless if Cal was winning or getting smashed.

One things has been enforced to this day on the Hill since 1923 is that NO RED is to be worn on the Hill on game day. You always of course have your select few who are USC or Stanford fans/students/alumni that try to grow a pair and chance it. While once every few years a fight may brake out or an incident of a fan who is there just for the purpose of causing problems, like the man dubed “The Joker” from 2003-2005.

His photo is provided so you know to be on the look out for him should he ever decide to return to Tightwad and cause problems in the future:The_joker_tightwad

Tightwad is known as well for not just its views of the game, but the view of the surrounding area. Non-football fans are higly encourage to come check out the view and photograph it. It has also become known for key spots and areas on it since that very first game in 1923 to include:

– A bench that was built in a tree over 15–20 years ago
– Trash cans and recycling bins to help keep the hill looking spotless following games
– Terraces formed into the steep hillside to facilitate seating
– “The Tightwad Country Club”, which is the seating area below the Tightwad Hill sign
– “The Pit”, which is an area filled with broken glass below the lowest seating area on the main part of the Hill.
– “Tightwad Country Club Bench 2.0” which is an updated version of the bench that was in the same spot from 2004 to 2007 nailed to the base of a tree below the Country Club. The new bench made its debut during the 115th Big Game on October 20th, 2012 and is planned to be fitted with wood from seats of the orignial Memorial Stadium during the upcoming season.

419352_458783590833749_514614912_n - CopyTightwad Hill on 9/1/2012 when the first game at the renovated California Memorial Stadium was played between Cal & Nevada.

As Tightwad gets set to turn 90, 2013 marks a year of change around the program as well as the Hill with new head coach Sonny Dykes set to lead the squad and Keith Salminen being sworn is as 30th Governor of Tightwad at the end of last season. Be sure to catch the action and be part of the history. ROOOOOOOOOLL OOOOOOOOON YOUUUUUUUU BEEEEEEEEEEARS!

7909452246_fd8592c375_o - CopylPictured above are 29th Govenor of Tightwad Tad III and 30th/current Govenor of Tightwad Keith Salminen

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