EXCLUSIVE: Tightwad Hill Closed to Cal Fans this Season

University says the campus and stadium will be closed on football game days

More commonly known as “Tightwad” Hill, Charter Hill affords a free panoramic view of the San Francisco Bay Area and California Memorial Stadium. (Photo Credit: Cal Athletics)

On any given Saturday, you will undoubtedly find a few Cal fans on Tightwad Hill, peering over the eastside of California Memorial Stadium.

A hike up Tightwad Hill, the nickname for Charter Hill, which is home to The Big “C” painted concrete block, has become a rite of passage for Golden Bears. Cal fans young and old make the hike up Strawberry Canyon, even when the stadium is not full, and football tickets are not prohibitively expensive.

But the college tradition is now another casualty of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Cal fans looking to watch the season opener against the Washington Huskies the evening of Nov. 7 from Tightwad Hill will have to make alternate plans.

“In keeping with State and Pac-12 Covid-19 guidelines, no ticketed fans will be permitted to watch the event in person at the stadium,” said Ruben Lizardo, the director of local government and community relations at the University of California, Berkeley, in an email sent to some Berkeley residents on Oct. 23.

Lizardo’s email continues: “As you may know, the campus is closed and will not be host to any tailgating activities. Finally, although the home games in Berkeley will be without spectators, Cal Athletics, UCPD and other campus units will work to secure the area around the stadium.”

Write for California is the first to report about the university’s email and the closure of the surrounding area around California Memorial Stadium, which includes Tightwad Hill.

On Nov. 4, Jim Knowlton, the athletic director of the university, and Marc Fisher, the vice chancellor of administration, confirmed Write for California’s reporting with the following prepared statement: “With no fans permitted in California Memorial Stadium, tailgating on campus is prohibited and gathering on Tightwad Hill is not allowed.”

The two administrators continue: “By observing state and local public health protocols, which limits gatherings of people from different households, we can have a safe and enjoyable fall season for everyone.”

When the Pac-12 Conference announced the restart of the football and winter sports seasons, it also prohibited fans from any sporting competitions on any of its member-universities’ campuses. The league said it would revisit the decision no earlier than January 2021, all but guaranteeing the football season will be spectator-free.

It is unclear whether the University of California Rally Committee or anyone else affiliated with the university will fire the California Victory Canyon when the Golden Bears run out onto the stadium, after a Cal score, or to celebrate a Golden Bear victory.

Unfortunately, Oski’s “mighty thunder” might be another tradition we lose this season.

Updated on Nov. 4: Added a statement and tweet provided by the University confirming Write for California’s reporting in the eighth and ninth paragraph.