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Restore Pauley - Part II: Then & Now

This is Part II in a periodic series.  Here is Part I.

You know the drill.  It's time to get serious about restoring Pauley.

Before we delve into the subject more deeply, let's spend a few moments on the then and now.

First, the then -- the construction of Pauley Pavilion

As many of you many know, Pauley Pavilion was dedicated in June, 1965, and was named for University of California Regent Edwin W. Pauley, who donated almost one fifth of the more than $5,000,000 spent in building the arena.  According to one source:

Edwin W. Pauley Pavilion first opened its doors in June of 1965. Although the pavilion wasn't constructed until this time, alumni and administrators had been contemplating various options for a sports facility for over a decade and at one point a surplus World War II blimp hanger was even considered. In the 1960s, a group of five alumni finally decided to take action and began to seriously study and organize the construction and fundraising of a pavilion with the help of Coach John Wooden and the Director of Athletics, Wilbur Johns. After much hard work the UCLA alumnus succeeded in raising $5,174,437, two million of which came from state funds on the basis that the pavilion would be used as a facility for the physical education major offered by the school at this time....

At the June 1965 commencement ceremonies Chancellor Murphy dedicated the building to UC Regent Edwin Pauley. Although Pauley was a Berkeley graduate, he was a southern California businessman and owned a petroleum company based in Century City. His generosity is manifested through buildings on both the UCLA and Berkeley campuses, and it was because of his one million dollar donation that the dream of a basketball pavilion was fully realized....

Then, as now, UCLA supporters rode the momentum of a great coach, John Wooden, to get the Pauley project rolling.  One lesson here is that you have to act at the right time.  Before Wooden started bringing banners to Westwood, the administration had been meandering along for over a decade, and were even contemplating playing in a freak'n surplus World War II blimp hanger.  But, with that success, and the commitment of a group of administrators and alumni actually serious about moving the project forward, the project was realized.   Of course, with Howland at the helm, I expect the iron to be hot for many years to come, but that doesn't mean that we should let this prime opportunity for a Pauley push slip by us.

And, as remains true today, the building didn't exactly hurt in recruiting.  According to wiki:

Before the construction of the Pavilion, the on-campus home to the UCLA Bruins men's basketball team was the 2,000 seat Men's Gym, nicknamed the "B.O. Barn". Games were also played at the Pan Pacific Auditorium, the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena and other venues around Los Angeles.

Bruin teams, coached by John Wooden won the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship in 1964 and 1965. Fans and Coach Wooden felt that a suitable arena needed to be constructed.... Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, then known as Lew Alcindor, was recruited to UCLA partly on the promise of playing in the new arena.

Today, more than 40 years later, Pauley remains essentially unchanged.  Sure, in 1990, a new lighting system was installed, the interior of the building was given a modest face lift, and a new scoreboard was added.  And, in 2003, the basketball floor at Pauley was renamed the "Nell and John Wooden Court" to honor Wooden and his late wife.  But, besides that, Pauley stands essentially as it was in the 60's.

Second, the now -- Pauley Pavilion in 2007

A lot has happened since 1965.

With all due respect to the history of Pauley, the arena itself isn't all that great by today's standards.  The seats are set back too far from the court, particularly on the east and west ends, the sightlines are poor from many places, the concession stands, restrooms and other amenities are just plain pathetic, and so on.

And the world around Pauley and UCLA has changed as well.  Let's take a stroll around the facilities in just the Pac-10, and see what our conference foes offer their fans (and potential recruits). Here they are, listed in chronological order since each arena's last major renovation.

  • USC - Galen Center.  Yep, our cross town rivals in football, owners of exactly zero hoops tradition, and almost zero hoops success, have managed to build a brand new arena, with the Galen Center opening in the fall of 2006.
  • Stanford - Maples Pavilion.  Monty may be gone, but the building his teams played in still benefits from a $26-million renovation in 2004.  Financed entirely through private donations, the new Maples Center was upgraded to include many of modern amenities now standard in today's arenas.
  • Washington- Hec Edmundson Pavilion.  Lorenzo Romar has done a lot to invigorate Washington's men's basketball program.  And it sure didn't hurt to get an essentially new building just before he was named head coach in 2002.   Originally completed in 1927, Hec Ed arena underwent a major, $40 million top-to-bottom renovation between March of 1999 and November of 2000.
  • California- Hass Pavilion.  Ben Braun is having a tough year.  But, at least his team gets to do it in nice digs.  In the fall of 1999, California opened the Walter A. Haas Jr. Pavilion, a state-of-the-art sports facility that was the centerpiece of a $57.5 million project, and replaced the 60-year old Harmon Gym, while still maintaining its history.
  • Arizona State - Wells Fargo Arena.  Even the hapless Sun Devils have a newer arena than UCLA.  Constructed in the spring of 1974 at the cost of $8 million, the 14,198-seat facility was recently updated with a new scoreboard.
  • Arizona - McKale Center.  The Wildcats' coach may be older than dirt, but at least they have a newer building than the Bruins.  The McKale Center was opened in 1973 and has a capacity of 14,545 spectators.
  • Washington State- Friel Court.  Yes, even the Cougars have a building constructed after the 1960's.  Friel Court came online in 1973, and received a new parquet floor in 2000.
  • Oregon State - Gill Coliseum.  Hooray.  A facility actually older than Pauley!  The Beavers' old caverous building, home of Ralph Miller Court, was opened in 1949.
  • Oregon- McArthur Court.  The second oldest on-campus arena still in use, Mac Court saw its first game in 1927 and makes Pauley look like a spring chicken.  Still, the intangibles of this historic building, and the intimidating home court advantage it provides (as we, unfortunately, saw Saturday morning), not to mention $5 million in recent renovations, keeps this building on many pundits top-10 lists.
So, in case you're counting, we've got one of the best teams in the country.  The 8th oldest arena, and probably the 8th or 9th "best" building, in just the Pac-10.  (I've not been to many of these places, so I invite the comments from those who have who may disagree).  That just isn't right.  And we're not even comparing Pauley to the facilities of other elite teams across the nation.

If anyone can to explain to me what twisted version of reality makes this acceptable, I'd love to see it.  Because, otherwise, I think we have to face the fact that UCLA's unmatched legacy has been taken for granted by too many university officials and, yes, alumni.

UCLA has shown before that it can build a facility that is worthy of our team.  It's time to do it again.

Next up:  Part III: The Road Behind Us.


P.S.: I really appreciate all the thoughtful comments in response to Part I.   I will try to circle back to follow up on many of the good subjects you addressed as this series continues.