One of coolest places to watch a college football game is Tightwad Hill above Memorial Stadium at UC Berkeley. Tightwad Hill got its name from students who discovered that the hills directly above Memorial Stadium provided a free, unobstructed view of the field. The first fans made the climb to Tightwad Hill in 1924 because they couldn't afford ticket prices for Cal Bear games. Today most of the several hundred or so fans watching Cal games can afford seats in Memorial Stadium but prefer the dirt, trees and fresh air of Tightwad Hill to seats in Memorial Stadium.
has called Memorial Stadium the most beautiful place in the country to watch a college football game, and Tightwad Hill has some of the most beautiful views in the Bay Area. In addition to a perfect view of the field (that's closer to the field that the top row of Mt. Davis at the Oakland Coliseum), Tightwad Hill spectators have stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, Mt. Tamalpais and San Francisco Bay.
In addition to the gorgeous views, you can do just about anything you want on Tightwad Hill with just a few exceptions. Tightwad Hill rule number one: Don't root for the visiting team. Rule number two: Don't wear anything red, the color of the hated Stanford Cardinal and the equally hated USC Trojans. If by chance you happen to be wearing some red apparel on Tightwad Hill, you will soon hear a chorus of Tightwad Hill regulars shout "take off that red ...." It doesn't matter if the offending red item is a jacket, pants or bikini top. If its red, it's has to come off.
Otherwise you can do whatever you want on Tightwad Hill, including consuming the BYO beverage and smoke of your choice, be it a nice Cuban or a little something from Humboldt County -- things that are prohibited inside Memorial Stadium.
Half the fun of watching a game on Tightwad Hill is discovering how to get to Tightwad Hill. I'm not going to tell you how to get to the promised land, but all I will say is that there's an easy way and a hard way to get to the Hill, and you'll have to figure out on your own how to get up to the Hill.
This season on Tightwad Hill is special because the regulars who hang on Tightwad Hill will have to find a new place to hang out next year, because Memorial Stadium will be closed next season for a year long retrofit. The Bears will be playing home games next year at AT&T Park in San Francisco, where there is no Tightwad Hill.
The Tightwad Hill regulars, who are a mix of students, alumni and Bay Area Cal fans, are not really concerned right now about where they will watch Bears games next year. The number one goal of the Tightwad Hill crowd is to reach the Rose Bowl, a game Cal has not played in since 1959. If Cal can make it to the Rose Bowl, the Tightwad Hill crowd will find some way to find a seat in AT&T Park next season with a view maybe half as good as their perch high above Memorial Stadium.
Cal will play home games this season against UCLA, Arizona State, Oregon, Stanford and Washington. Check calbears.com for dates and game times.