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UCLA unveils Pauley Pavilion renovation plans

May 12, 2009 |  1:15 pm

Pauley Pavilion isn't built on a minefield, but try telling that to UCLA officials planning a renovation for the hallowed basketball arena.

Politically, there are more traps than John Wooden's teams ever ran.

Build out? Emergency vehicles need access, so the fire inspector would probably extinguish that idea.

Build up? Only if the earthquake inspector isn't shaken by the suggestion.

Build down? Athletes can hit the training table, but they don't want to hit the water table. Gurgle.

Build elsewhere? Ben Howland -- who likes to practice on the actual game court -- isn't going to have players warm up with a jog to some venue down on Wilshire.

Then there are little things like appeasing students, boosters, some family named "Pauley," and some little thing called "history."

The only thing harder than winning 11 national championship banners might be building a new place to hang them.

OK, it's not that hard. But it isn't easy.

Speaking of which, Pauley Pavilion was already named one of the toughest places to play by EA Sports. Soon it will be even tougher for opponents, as the court will be centered and the cavernous gaps between the end zones and the seats will be tightened up.

During Monday's project unveiling, it also seemed like a tough venue for some of the administrators. The event's tone should have matched a pep rally, but it sometimes featured all the gusto of a biology lecture. To spare you the details, just recall all those people who needed to be appeased.

Some questions weren't even answered, as officials postponed any decision on how seating will work. With a new capacity of about 14,000, the concern won't be filling the good seats (like at the new Yankee Stadium), but making sure season ticket holders get the ones they want. That plan will be announced by July 1st.

Fortunately, there were some well-produced video presentations (available on UCLA's Campaign of Champions website) and war stories from former athletes such as Mike Warren, Ann Meyers-Drysdale, and Dan Guerrero, who now serves as UCLA's athletic director.

Some of the other announced improvements focus on "more" -- more bathrooms, more concessions, more comfortable seats, and more capacity (about 1,000 seats will be added between the baskets, in the end zones, even courtside). New construction will include a high-definition scoreboard over center court and an LED ribbon board around the entire inside of the arena. Such a distraction might have caused you to trip while walking to your seat in the old days (which are scheduled to end in the fall of 2012), but planners have also pledged to fix the aisles so that they have a railing and all steps are equal size.

Athletes will also benefit from improved locker rooms, lounges, weight rooms, film rooms and treatment rooms -- which will ultimately help with recruiting.

Like all construction projects, this will cost money and time. The 2011-12 men's basketball season will have to be played at another venue or venues (the Forum, Staples Center, and Honda Center are candidates), and total costs will hover around $185 million. Officials say that $25 million would come from existing student fees, $60 million from external financing, and $100 million from donations (of which $52.5 million has already been pledged). They also haven't ruled out selling corporate naming rights that would go alongside, not in lieu of, the Pauley name.

A full budget hasn't been released, but sources say $40 million could be needed for infrastructure improvements alone (new pipes, wiring, etc.).

-- Adam Rose

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