UPDATE - Ryan: Not long after this post went up this morning, the Morgan Center reached out to us and allowed us the opportunity to meet in Westwood and ask any questions or get any information on the project. This is a positive first step in improving communication and hopefully we can clarify anything uncertain about the renovation
It has been 617 days since UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero, Chancellor Gene Block and a host of current and former Bruins stood up on a podium in Pauley Pavilion and revealed their plans for a renovated arena that would bring the facility into the 21st century. The decades of rumored renovations to Pauley were finally going to be a thing of the past because UCLA was going to give the historic, but antiquated arena the renovation is desperately needed.
On that day, May 11, 2009, Guerrero said, "Pauley Pavilion is a special place and this renovation will keep it among the nation's elite venues." Sounds fantastic, right? It sounded great until a perusal of all the information showed a new Pauley Pavilion that didn't look much like one of the best arenas in the country.
A day after the plans were revealed to the public, I wrote a post titled "Pauley Pavilion Renovation: First Class Money, But Will It Be a First Class Arena?" The plans looked woefully inadequate to me. The 200 and 300 levels of the arena looked no closer to the court than they currently are. The seats behind the basket don't look like they will be brought closer to the court. The plans look like they will just add seats to the currently empty space behind the baskets. The plans call for a new film room, but five teams play in Pauley Pavilion. Will they all have to share the film room? The added space for locker rooms/sports medicine/film rooms/weight room will be less than half the size of the pavilion at Galen Center which holds the same rooms in addition to a practice court that seats 1,000 and has three sections that can hold nine volleyball courts or four basketball courts.
Now, the goal right now is not to rehash what appears to be an inadequate renovation of Pauley Pavilion. Initial work on the arena began last year and it appears as if this is the renovation that UCLA is going to get, for better or worse. The real issue right now lies elsewhere.
617 days ago, UCLA revealed their plans for the Pauley Pavilion renovation. 616 days ago I wrote a post that called into question many of the things that I thought were major problems with the renovation and in that post, I left a door open in saying, "it's possible that the Morgan Center has done a poor job conveying the exact details of the plan and that there's a lot more to the renovation than we currently know."
So, all this time later, what answers do we have to the questions about the Pauley Pavilion renovation? The closest thing we've gotten to an answer was a "Q&A" that Guerrero had with himself and it didn't answer any of the questions that myself and many other UCLA fans have about the project. The closest thing we got to new information was that the project would cost roughly $50 million less than originally said because of financing and cost issues.
Today we sit here with as many, if not more questions that we had when the project was first announced. Regardless of one's feelings on the renovation, the Morgan Center and UCLA as a whole has completely dropped the ball with regards to their communication on this project. This is no small project. Without an on-campus football stadium, Pauley Pavilion is the premier athletic venue on the UCLA campus and with its role as a commencement venue, concert venue and intramural venue, it is central to the entire university. With UCLA planning on a renovation to such an instrumental facility to the university, quality communication should be paramount, but instead the communication has been woeful.
I left the door open that all of my concerns may be unfounded and some simple answers could sell me and many others with similar concerns on the renovation. At this point, with not even an attempt at answering questions or communicating with the Bruin community, I have not the slightest reason to believe in the renovation project. At this point, I can only conclude that my initial thoughts that the renovation is inadequate are true.
Simple answers and communication would go an incredibly long way in this matter, but unfortunately, those answers and any sort of communication appears to be out of reach. Rumors have been going around that the $100 million they planned on raising through private donations are well behind schedule. The tough economy and on-court struggles haven't helped with raising money in the slightest, but do the Pauley Pavilion renovation plans inspire you? If you were considering donating money to the renovation, wouldn't you want more answers than those that have been given? Sure, if you were considering donating a large sum of money then Guerrero or whoever could probably provide you with answers to your questions, but having to track down answers is not exactly the job of the generous person hoping to help out.
A quick look across town shows a better run fundraising plan for a major building initiative than the one UCLA is currently undertaking. USC is building a new football facility and prior to a basketball game at Galen Center those in attendance are treated to detailed fly throughs of the plans with the chance to simply text to a certain number to make a $10 donation. They have used Twitter to show off their plans. When Oregon was raising money and support for the newly opened Matthew Knight Arena, people could look at a detailed model of the arena. Meanwhile, UCLA has no new information all this time after the original announcement.
A big question still out there is why are we renovating Pauley Pavilion and not building a new arena? That's a question we have yet to get an answer on.It's one of many questions we have yet to get an answer on and not only is the communication clumsy at best and insulting at worst, it makes it very easy to doubt the plans with the thought that UCLA must be hiding something creeping into people's minds.
There are a lot of questions that one could ask about the Pauley Pavilion renovation project. Renovating an arena as historic and iconic as Pauley Pavilion is sure to upset some people. Put aside the renovation plans themselves and the issues that lone will cause, at the very least UCLA could properly communicate with the Bruin community. Have we had any questions answered? No. Have we gotten any new information? No. Have there been additional models, renderings of any visuals at all to cause further excitement? No. Has UCLA treated the Bruin community like valued members of a family? Not in the slightest and all of this is a matter of communication...or the lack of it.