This November, Pauley Pavilion will reopen with some fancy glass on the outside, a wider concourse and some new LED boards all over the place. The number one recruiting class in the country will be on the floor, playing for the Pac-12 preseason favorites with 11 NCAA Championship banners hanging in the rafters. And yet, some UCLA students won't even know what Pauley Pavilion is.
Yup, a UCLA student doesn't know what Pauley Pavilion is. All that history means nothing to this girl. The arena's place in the center of campus means nothing to her. The basketball program means nothing to her. The $135 million being spent on what has been a construction site for more than a year means nothing to her.
How exactly can this happen? It's pretty simple, actually. The Morgan Center has failed to effectively communicate, again.
Athletics are supposed to be a chance to enrich a student's university experience. They bring students together, give them a common cause and can create memories that serve to be the strongest tie to the university that the students will have after they graduate. Even putting aside the enrichment part, the Morgan Center should be especially interested in the last part because the current UCLA students are their future donors. If they cannot compel students to know there is a team then show up and then bond with the teams, they are highly unlikely to become donors when they graduate, have jobs and have disposable income.
It is not as if this is the first time that the students have been overlooked and their presence at games minimal either. Some will blame the students for this, but that would be unfair. The students have no obligation to show up to games or care. The university, and especially the Morgan Center has an obligation to enrich the students' experience and sell them on the benefits of attending sporting events. Every time there are swaths of empty sections among the students at games, which is not rare, the university and Morgan Center has failed.
The problem goes far beyond that, though. More specifically, it is a continuing problem.
UCLA is currently in the middle of a $135 million renovation to the arena, which will make it one of the more expensive on-campus arenas ever built or renovated. It has been touted as one of the university's centerpieces and an asset to everyone in the community so how does a student not know what the building even is?
This renovation came with a lot of hoopla, but that hoopla has ben unrealized and for good reason. The Morgan Center has failed to effectively communicate with the Bruin community. Remember all those questions I had about the arena when the renovation was announced more than three years ago? They still haven't been answered. There were stretches during renovation when they went more than a month without photo and video updates on the progress. Aside from his Q&A when he answered his own questions has Dan Guerreo been made available for questions about the arena? Of course not.
The communication on the entire project has been horrendous. Questions are still unanswered, the process that got them to the decision to renovate has been shrouded in mystery and the choices they made in renovation are still unexplained. All of it has been a mess.
Now there is this. The one student who doesn't know what Pauley is is only one student and on its own is not anything to worry about. Some people just aren't sports fans and that is perfectly fine. However, when taking into account all of empty student seats and a complete failure of communication on the entire renovation project, it is more than just one student. It is another example of an athletic department coming up short .. again.