Sunday, July 21

Pauley Pavilion renovation formally begins with groundbreaking ceremony


The Pauley Pavilion renovation is officially under way after Tuesday afternoon’s groundbreaking.

Bruin players and coaches were dispersed throughout the crowd, and none were short on enthusiasm for the 45-year-old arena’s renovation.

And with the building set to close its doors from March 2011 to fall 2012, the men and women’s basketball, men and women’s volleyball and gymnastics team will each spend at least a year away from Pauley.

Bruin coaches didn’t seem too worried, however.

“That’s a sacrifice that is happily going to be made by all the programs,” men’s basketball coach Ben Howland said after the groundbreaking. “It’s never going to be easy to play on the road … for a whole year, but if you look at the whole scheme of things, the big picture, it’s going to be wonderful once we’re back in here.”

Athletic Director Dan Guerrero called the 2011-2012 men’s basketball season, during which time the arena will be closed, a year that will “definitely be Bruins on the road.”

Howland added that the renovated arena has been a big pitch for recruits in the past few recruiting classes.

Guerrero said that UCLA Athletics has been in negotiations with the Forum in Inglewood, formerly the home court of the Los Angeles Lakers from 1967 to 1999.

“I anticipate playing most of our games (at the Forum), but not ruling out the Honda Center,” Guerrero said. “Staples Center is obviously an option for a marquee game or two.”

Guerrero said the university will provide students with transportation to the off-campus home games, similar to how football games work.

Men’s volleyball coach Al Scates, who has won 19 NCAA Championships in Pauley Pavilion, said he is not worried about playing elsewhere.

When scheduling conflicts have risen in the past, the men’s volleyball team would play in the John Wooden Center’s Collins Court. Scates added he would not mind the switch, especially because his team has a better record there.

And with the close proximity of the bleachers to the court, Scates thinks playing in Collins Court will even be a better environment for players and fans alike.

Guerrero added that taking the men’s basketball team off campus may even have an upside.

“Does it worry us? No. It’s a part of progress in some respects,” Guerrero said about spending a season away from Pauley Pavilion. “It could be fun to take the team on the road and experience some other venues here in Los Angeles, and we’re certainly going to spin it that way.”

This next season’s marketing, Senior Associate Athletic Director Ken Weiner said, will have a retro-focus, with the Bruins commemorating their final season in the arena before renovation.

And as for ticket prices, they will remain approximately the same after the renovation, though fans will likely have to up their donations to the Wooden Athletic Fund to retain a favorable position in the Bruin Priority Point Program.

After the renovations, the student section will be flipped to the south side of Pauley Pavilion, as team benches and locker rooms will be on the north side.

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