I have to say I am a little suprised by the early results of our poll question asking about folks' initial impression about Pauley renovation plan. So far about 68 percent of BN are either "very impressed" and "impressed" with what they have seen and read about the plan. As for myself, I haven't voted in the poll yet and I am leaning towards voting "unsure" because I still don't know what to make of this.
Let me start with the features I like. I like how the redesign is supposed to look from the outside because it preserves the traditional feel of Pauley while working in a modern look. I like the idea of spending a lot of effort to work in historical displays, graphics, team stores with UCLA goodies all around the arena, because I thought that was always missing from the current arena.
I like the fact that the new design makes an effort to fill out the cavernous spaces behind the baskets, by bringing the bleachers in, making room for 1,000 more seats. I am ok with preserving the traditional look and feel inside the arena. It looks slick. I also think the new redesign of the locker rooms, player lounges, weight rooms, equipment rooms etc will be extremely helpful for Coach Howland and his staff on the recruiting trail. They have already been immensely succesful. I have to think the way the renovated arena looks in these graphics will help them evangelize even more effectively about the greatest basketball program in the country.
That said I am not sure about few things. One of the biggest reasons I thought Pauley needed renovation because our home court often doesn't feel intimidating (besides the mystic of banners) with crowd noise and participation. I know the Bruin Den gives their all every game (well except for the Holidays). However, when a team visits at Pauley, I don't think it experiences the same hostile experience it encounters at a place like Cameron or Mac Court.
I thought the renovation plans would be an excellent opportunity to bring the seats even closer, and lay them out at a steeper angle, that would allow the Pauley crowd to be right on the top of the opposing team, helping out the defensive efforts of our Ben Ball warriors. Right now after watching the video, seeing the designs and reading about the plan, I am not so sure whether that new plan achieves that goal. The seats don't look like they are set up at a steep angle putting them right on top of the players. Moreover, it looks like there are still open spaces around the corners. It does't appear to me that the people sitting at the highest section will have any better view of the court. I think if the new renovation plan doesn't lead to a more boisterous and energized UCLA home crowd at basketball games, that would be a disappointment. That's just me though. Perhaps others have different thoughts.
There is all the seating issue. From the LA Times today:
[A]s UCLA officials unveiled their vision for an updated Pauley Pavilion on Monday afternoon, filling in blanks about a proposed $185-million project, an equally important question lurked in the not-so-distant future.
The university will look to trade choice seats for big donations, which could prompt some season-ticket holders to worry whether they will be pushed farther from the action.
"I think people are going to be concerned about the seating plan," Athletic Director Dan Guerrero said. "That's probably the biggest issue."
Big enough that officials decided to postpone giving any details at their announcement ceremony, opting to use the next few weeks to review the situation.
Guerrero said his department is trying to hone a point system that balances new donors with loyal fans who have stuck with the Bruins for decades.
I wonder what the general sentiment is among those folks who have had seats for decades. Are they going to fork up donations for a plan that to me (from what I can see and read so far) doesn't really seem to dramatically change the sightlines from 200 and 300 sections? I don't know and I think it could be a mistake for UCLA administration to alienate those fans without satisfactorly answering all their questions and concerns about how the new arena is supposed to improve their game watching experience at UCLA.
BTW, it looks like the officials (including Pauleys) are open to attaching a corporate name to the redesigned Pauley:
UCLA officials have also received authorization from the Pauley family for an accompanying corporate naming rights deal to the arena, Guerrero said, "under the right circumstances."
Funding for the project will come from fees, long-term debt and private funding raised as part of "Pauley Pavilion Campaign of Champions" a $100 million fundraising drive launched today. The campaign has already received $52.5 million in commitment from donors and sponsors, UCLA officials said.
As mentioned yesterday while the renovation is taking place UCLA teams will probably playing most of their games at the old Showtime Forum, sprinkling in few at the Pond and perhaps at the Staples Center.
Going back to redesign, one of the questions I have been getting is whether UCLA could have gotten a brand new arena by spending $185 million. I know ther has been lot of intense/heated discussions back and forth on message boards where posters have pointed out how a numbers of state of art arenas have been built around the country spending far less amount. The counter to that has been that it costs a lot more to build projects at a place like UCLA (given its high end location). However, that argument hasn't been convincing to its critics. Again, this is something I am not sure where I fall in because I feel like I don't have all the facts and datapoints to reach a conclusion on it. So I am really interested to hear from Bruins with architecture and design backgrounds. If you have ideas, numbers you want to share, I would love to read and learn about it. I am sure as will others here on BN.