Fifty days out from Cal football's season opener, athletic department officials promise the $321 million renovation of Memorial Stadium will be complete enough for the facility to be up and running.
Activity is bustling in every corner of the 63,000-seat stadium, and there remains a long to-do list. But athletic director Sandy Barbour said she has no doubts all the important and necessary elements will be in place.
"I have supreme confidence we'll play a football game on Sept. 1," she said of the game against Nevada.
During a tour of the stadium Thursday, project manager Bob Milano Jr. echoed that all-systems-go optimism.
"At 10 o'clock on (that) Saturday morning we're going to open the gates," he said.
Milano said the only elements that might not be complete by the opener will be decorative, such as signage or landscaping. Restrooms, concessions, seating and scoreboards all will be ready.
"Our goal is to have fans arrive and not have them notice something isn't done," he said. "I think we're on target for that."
Five or six months ago, the remaining workload was so daunting that Milano admits to having had a few "omigod" moments. No longer.
"The university's credibility and the athletic department's credibility is too important for us not to make it," Milano said.
Crews are working 10 to 12 hours per day, six days a week to complete the 21-month project.
On Thursday, workers were reinforcing the existing scoreboard structures at the north and south ends of the stadium with concrete and steel. New video screens will be hung in early August.
The field's subsurface drainage system is installed and covered by gravel, and a three-quarters-inch pad is set to go in by the end of July.
Matrix artificial turf -- the same as used at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas -- will be laid the first two weeks of August, and Milano said he anticipates the team will get the chance to practice on the new field several times before the Nevada game.
About 90 percent of the aluminum benches and chair-back seats are in place within the bowl. The stadium lights and sound system are installed and await testing.
Perhaps the last major aspect of the project to be completed will be what Cal is calling the grand stair entrance to the stadium from the north end, across Piedmont Avenue from the Haas School of Business. The 50-foot wide pathway to two admission gates will accommodate the arrival and exit of more than half of the game-day crowds, Milano said.
"We have to have it safe for people to walk in and walk out. It's not an option -- it has to be done," he said.
Barbour said close to 30,000 season tickets have been sold, generating more than $1 million of revenue beyond the total for season tickets in 2011, when Cal played at AT&T Park.
Final figures for the fiscal quarter that ended June 30 on Endowment Seating Program (ESP) sales for Field Club, Stadium Club and University Club seats are not yet available, Cal officials said.
Sales of those tickets on a 50-year basis are targeted to eventually pay about $270 million of the debt for the privately funded project. As of March 31, ESP sales had generated only $35 million.
But Barbour expects a surge in sales once fans are exposed to the new University Club-level seating along the top of the west press box. Those high-end seats will be covered but outdoors and offer views of the bay from a deck on the backside.
"I'm confident that when people actually touch it, see it, smell it, experience it, there's going to be a lot of interest," Barbour said.
By Sept. 1, a stadium that was originally opened in 1923 will have new life breathed into it.
"I don't think any of us could have dreamed that it would be any better than this," Barbour said.