As mentioned last weekend there will be a "groundbreaking celebration" next Tuesday around the East Exterior Concourse of Pauley Pavilion. If you missed the public invite for it you can get the details over here. Heading into this event the official site this afternoon posted a "Pauley Pavilion Project Q&A With Athletic Director Dan Guerrero," in which DG "gives answers to some of the more frequently asked questions about the Pauley Pavilion project." Here is a sample of the "Q&A":
Q: The original estimate for the campaign was for $185 million and now it is at $136 million. Why is the cost so much lower than the original project estimate?
A: A benefit of the current economic climate is that construction costs in the bidding process came in much lower than we originally estimated. This is consistent with other recent projects on campus that have also benefitted from favorable bids.
Q: Does the new lower cost mean that the project has been scaled back?
Even though we were able to trim nearly $50 million from the original project costs, the renovation plan remains 100 percent intact. All the infrastructure and amenities improvements we previously announced at the campaign kickoff will be included in the renovation.
Q: If there were not a Pauley Pavilion transformation project, would any work be needed on the building?
A: Absolutely. Two independent engineers hired by the architects stated that the infrastructure of the building - the plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems - had outlived their useful life. The University would still have to replace the infrastructure - a cost estimated to be at least $50 million of the total budget - even if there were no transformation project. With state resources being virtually non-existent for this purpose, the campus could have been facing a real dilemma.
In addition to the need to completely replace the plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems, the building needs seismic work to upgrade it from a rating of "Fair" to a rating of "Good." It also has life-safety and Americans with Disabilities Act issues that must be addressed to bring the building up to current building codes. This work is included in the renovation plan.
Q: Will any of the savings be passed on to donors and season ticket holders?
A: The Athletics Department and the University are re-evaluating the financial component of the project. It is important to first note that the goal for the Campaign of Champions remains the same - raise $100 million in private funds. If Athletics is successful in this endeavor, it will be delighted to provide relief to our season ticket holders by reducing the required annual Wooden Fund donation once the project is completed.
However, we first have to figure how much of the $100 million will have some finance cost associated with it. For example, if someone donates $10 million to the project, typically it may be over 5 years because of the size of that donation. The difference in the dollars pledged and the dollars "in house" at the time of the project's completion has to be financed, just as if you were taking out a loan. The Athletics Department must pay principle and interest on that amount which must be calculated into the annual fundraising model.
Q: How do you respond to critics of the renovation plan?
A: When dealing with a major project and an iconic building such as Pauley Pavilion, there are sure to be differences of opinion. An objective review of the renovation plan by industry experts shows that it is a responsible plan to preserve and improve Pauley for its intended uses. It addresses many long-needed infrastructure and amenities improvements required to ensure that the venue serves the current and future needs of the UCLA community.
You can read the rest of it here and some additional thoughts after the jump.
I have stayed mostly neutral regarding the actual merits of the plan. It is more than reasonable given how emotional thousands of our alums and season ticket holders feel about our basketball program, there will be strong opinions concerning the renovation project. There are reasonable reservations and concerns about how the plan was rolled out to the extended Bruin family and whether the UCLA administration had attempted to take in feedback from the most hardcore fans of UCLA hoops.
That said, I found this attempt to provide answers to questions pretty clumsy. You cannot really label something as a "Q&A" when it appears for all intents and purposes this is basically a "conversation" DG is having with himself. I think a better way and more effective way for UCLA administration to engage with its alums, students and season ticket holders would have been to solicit questions online (the most basic thing they could have done was to provide email address where folks could have submitted questions) and then answer them by responding to a real life individual (who was either an alum, student or season ticket holder).
More importantly, if the administration really wants to give the perception that it was engaging with broader Bruin community, I think there is still time for DG or others to communicate in either in an online or offline forum directly with UCLA fans in a transparent manner. Of course there will be questions that will be difficult to answer. There will be complaints. If DG does his best to address the questions head on though, I think he will not only get more respect but more importantly buy in from the greater Bruin community.
Otherwise, a spiced up "Q&A" will appear as just another press release from the official source. Yes, we will still read them and file them as point of reference. Yet I think rolling information out this way doesn't really meet its objective if the purpose is to get buy in and build support among the base of Bruin Nation.