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Morgan Center Has Questions to Answer (on Pauley)

So the folks from Morgan Center are at it again. In this summer?s Daily Bruin orientation issue, UCLA athletic department officials are once again making excuses for not making a whole lot of progress for renovation of Pauley Pavillion:

[F]or another year, it will likely not be playing host to any construction crews.

Renovations on the arena, which first opened in 1965, have been a subject of discussion for several years now. But all major construction on the pavilion would be dependent on significant donation money which the Athletic Department has been unable to secure.

"Nothing has changed (in the past year)," said Ken Weiner, associate athletic director of business operations and the point man for this phase of the Pauley Pavilion renovation project. "Right now we're in what's known as a 'quiet phase.' That means we're mostly trying to gauge the interest of potential donors."
It seems like officials like Weiner are in this "quiet phase" every single year. If you think it seems like every year we hear a lot of PR/mumbo jumbo/hot air from UCLA?s athletic department officials about renovating Pauley, you are right. Check out this December, 2005 post from our colleague at Bruin Basketball Report:
In October of last year, Athletic Director Dan Guerrero went into a meeting with planners to discuss renovation for Pauley Pavilion, and although estimates were never officially announced (some estimated it to be about $40-50 million), the amount was more than expected due to upgrade needs and increased costs of construction which caused the administration to reassess their plans and priorities.

Corporate naming rights were even considered to help with funding, although it appears this is no longer an option being considered at UCLA.

In May of this year, UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero finally announced he hoped a fundraising strategy for the renovation of Pauley Pavilion would be in place by the end of 2005.

"We're hoping to get the scope of the project done by the end of the summer, at which time we would begin to seek an architect to look at design elements, and things of that nature," Guerrero said. "We're being very deliberate with all of the planning relative to the facility.

"Among the improvements being considered are better fan amenities, including concessions and restrooms, upgraded locker rooms and moving the seats closer to the court, Guerrero said.

"Once we get to the point that we know exactly what we're going to do, then we embark on a funding strategy, and the need to raise all the dollars to complete the project," Guerrero said in May.

"In my mind, the soonest we can begin to develop a funding strategy and embark on some kind of campaign could be some time in the latter part of this year". But Guerrero added at the time - no firm time table exists to start the project.

In an article this week in the L.A. Daily News, UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero announced plans to renovate Pauley Pavilion were underway, saying. "We'll give it (Pauley Pavilion) a fresh new look inside with new everything. We'll likely center the court. We'll bring the end seats to the court itself."

He then announced that a second phase of renovation would begin in which a new arena level would be created under Pauley Pavilion in which new player locker rooms, practice court, media room, and booster stadium club would be added.

This sounds like an interesting plan, but there are still no architectural renderings nor has a time table been set for the renovations to begin.

In other words, we've heard this before.
Yes, we hear it every year. We hear the same nonsense, same excuses on fundraising every year. And it's not like the athletic department is lacking in terms of staff/personnel when it comes to fundraising. In fact, just last August there was a high profile staff shakeup at Morgan Center to boost fundraising. Yes, back in August of 2005, with a lot of fan fare, UCLA announced the hiring of a senior official named Ross Bjork, an official who came over from Miami's athletic department, along with in house promotion of three other officials (including aforementioned Weiner):
Along with the hiring of Bjork, UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero announced the promotion of three members of the Bruin athletic department staff. Petrina Long, former associate athletic director and senior women's administrator, and Ken Weiner, former associate athletic director of operations, have been promoted to senior athletic directors. Ken McGuire has been promoted to associate athletic director of development.

The realignment is all a part of a greater vision for the athletic department that all of the staff ? most notably Guerrero ? have been working toward.

"This reorganization is a little bit of unfolding of the general trend of giving our coaches and student athletes as much support as possible," Long said. "Dan Guerrero is committed to supporting the coaches and athletes as much as possible, and this enhancement of programs already existing and new hires is part of his commitment."

Bjork's position has never before existed at UCLA, but many other universities have adopted the similar positions to enhance external affairs such as fundraising and donor networking of the universities.

"It is a direction many universities have taken," Long said.

"The external relations position really pulls all external elements into one primary, cohesive unit. We think that Ross will be successful and this alignment of affairs will be successful."

During Bjork's two years at the University of Miami, the total athletic gifts and annual giving increased by a million dollars, whereas Miami's capital campaign for athletics jumped from $32 million to $48 million.
I don't mean to single Mr. Bjork our Weiner out but, seriously, what is the problem? So what have they done to bring in the $$ since they were hired and promoted (respectively)?

What is so hard about raising funds to renovate the holy grail of college basketball, which happens to be the home of the greatest program in college hoops? What is so difficult about raising millions through on and offline fundraising from a huge alumni base, which is still euphoric about our run in the NCAA tourney, our recent conference championships, and the incredible job Coach Howland has done in revitalizing the program? For how long we are going to have put up with these excuses?

In the excerpt above, DG announced in May of 2005 that he hoped a fundraising strategy for the renovation of Pauley Pavilion would be in place by the end of 2005. So where is that fundraising strategy? How come, after more than one year, instead of hearing about a concrete strategy, we are hearing about excuses from Ken Weiner? Hellloooo is anyone home?

We will hardly ever see the aspiring reporters from the Daily Bruin (or most of the traditional media in Los Angeles covering UCLA sports) probing into these deeper issues or asking the tough questions. Yet it is pretty obvious there seems to be lot of legit questions here and because of lack of transparency we don't have any answers from the athletic department. Perhaps we should contact the athletic department and ask for some answers.

You can email Dan Guerrero at and ask him if he can give us a definite timeline for the completion of Pauley's renovation and also let us know who will be held accountable if the job doesn't get done. Of course, please be polite and courteous when you are writing these emails.