Last week I wrote this post lamenting the lack of communication from the Morgan Center and UCLA about the Pauley Pavilion renovation. My issues with the renovation itself aside, the renovation's biggest problem was the communication, in my opinion. So many questions I had about the project when it was first announced had yet to be answered over 600 days later. There was very little communication about the project at all since the initial announcement.
Whether it was about the plan itself, the status of the fundraising, the work being done on the arena or anything at all regarding the renovation, the Bruin community was left in the dark. After I wrote my post, I got an invitation from Mark Harlan, Senior Associate Athletic Director of External Relations, to meet him at the Morgan Center and discuss the project.
The two things that Harlan is most involved in with regarding the Pauley renovation is securing donations and communication about the project. Having been hired somewhat recently and not being involved in the renovation planning process, Harlan couldn't answer all of my questions about the plan itself, but we are working to get those answers. What he could speak towards was the communication about the project and if the plans he outlined come to fruition, the Bruin community should be much more plugged into the process than they have been.
One of the first things that the two of us agreed upon was that the communication needs to be better. I've already written a post on the communication failings in the past and I'm sure that you all can pen your own posts about your frustrations with the communication, but the future plans do give reason for hope. There are several things in the works that will hopefully keep the Bruin community well informed of all future progress about the renovation.
In the next couple months, UCLA will have virtual tours and a seat viewer of the renovation. Working with IOMedia, UCLA is putting together virtual viewers that will allow anyone to go online, get a virtual look at the renovation and also get a snapshot of what the view of the court will be from each section (to see IOMedia's past work on these virtual viewers, check this out, as well as this and this). Harlan showed me some of the initial work they have done on the virtual viewer and it's impressive. If nothing else, it definitely gives you a more detailed look at the arena and a feel for what it will be like inside after the renovation is complete.
When construction gets well underway during next season, Harlan also has plans to begin hard hat tours, an idea Harlan is bringing over from him time at Arizona. Exactly how it works out and how one gets to go on these hard hat tours is undecided, but people will have the opportunity to put a hard hat on and walk around the stadium during the construction to see how construction is going and where the work is going in.
For those that aren't local and can't get to Westwood, there will be more updates online to keep Bruins apprised of the progress. Regular updates from the project manager are planned so not only are their pictures to show progress, but someone who knows what exactly is going on at the site will be able to explain the details.
Probably the most exciting possibility for better communication is something that isn't a sure thing or even 100% in the plans yet, but it came from this community so I wanted to pass it along. When I asked for questions or input on what the Bruin community wanted to hear about the project, the idea of Dan Guerrero doing a Q&A with Bruins that could be videoed and give the community a chance to ask Guerrero himself some questions about the project. I passed that suggestions along to Harlan, who responded with, "that's a great idea. I love stuff like that." Clearly, this isn't something in the books and ready to go, but in lieu of an entire post lamenting communication, the fact that a suggestion from the community is now at least in a brain over at the Morgan Center is a step forward and hopefully the idea becomes a reality eventually.
Now, all of this sounds like great stuff and while Harlan was nothing but welcoming and forthcoming with me so I have no reason not to believe a single thing he told me, the Morgan Center does have a spotty record with these things so the real progress will be made when these plans are put into action. Nonetheless, the plans going forward do sound like a major step forward and the meeting in itself, which was initiated by the Morgan Center, is a tangible step forward.