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Saying Goodbye to the Pan-Pacific Auditorium, February 22, 1959

February 22, 2009 |  6:00 am
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Photograph by Art Rogers / Los Angeles Times

A huge crowd surrounds Pan-Pacific Auditorium for an appearance by presidential nominee Dwight D. Eisenhower, Oct. 9. 1952.
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Los Angeles Times file photo

Skating at the Pan-Pacific, about 1941.
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Photograph by Robert Lachman / Los Angeles Times

Pan-Pacific up for sale, Aug. 26, 1976.
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Photograph by Boris Yaro / Los Angeles Times

Burned in a fire blamed on fireworks, July 4, 1982. One of several blazes
before it was destroyed in 1989.
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Photograph by Cassy Cohen / Los Angeles Times

A target for taggers, June 25, 1985.
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Photograph by Ellen Jaskol / Los Angeles Times

Pan-Pacific Auditorium, awaiting probable demolition, April 7, 1986.
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USC and UCLA played basketball for the last time at the Pan-Pacific Auditorium, one of Southern California's landmark facilities. The schools would begin playing in the Los Angeles Sports Arena the next season. For the record, USC defeated Oregon and UCLA got past Stanford in a doubleheader.

The Times' Mal Florence didn't say much about the farewell other than to report "no one shed any tears." The auditorium was destroyed in a 1989 fire.

"The Pan was an intimate place," said Al Buch, a former Cal basketball player who in 1959 hit a last-second shot there to defeat UCLA. "It only seated about 6,000 for basketball, but with an exciting game the noise level was very high."

The Times' Earl Gustkey noted that the arena was never UCLA's home court but the Bruins played some games there from 1949-59 because there was more capacity than the campus gym. USC played there regularly and the Pan also was the site of Harlem Globetrotter games, college and minor league hockey and a host of other events. 

Ester Schraeder and Patt Morrison, writing in The Times on May 25, 1989, recalled how journalists described the Pan when it opened: "The auditorium, huge as it is, has an architectural dignity."

--Keith Thursby

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