By Sean CeglinskyWESTWOOD, Calif. -- They stop. They stare. They pull out smart phones and take photos. Pauley Pavilion has long been considered one of the centerpieces on the UCLA campus. Home to a storied Bruins basketball program, the facility is a big draw for onlookers regardless of whether there is a game going on inside or not.
The historic building receives as much attention nowadays as it ever did in the past given the fact that Pauley Pavilion has been under renovation for quite some time and is on the verge of opening its doors once again. Sooner rather than later, that is. Members of the media were recently given an exclusive hour-long tour of Pauley Pavilion, still under construction albeit in the final stages of a $136-million makeover.
UCLA athletic department officials maintain the project will be completed on time, at some point in mid-October. The apparent goal was to keep many of the older elements that made Pauley Pavilion such a unique facility over the years, while upgrading the interior and exterior to give the building a more modern feel. Mission accomplished. Things appear to be heading in that direction, anyway.
“We're 27 months into a 33 month project. We're on-time. We're on-budget. Those are the four best words you want to hear on a project,'' UCLA Senior Associate Athletic Director Ken Weiner said. “The first people we talked to about the building was coach John Wooden and the Pauley family. The consensus was, don't knock down the building, let Pauley stand. Do what you need to do with the infrastructure, do what you need to do with the improvements, and there were lots of them required, but keep the old building.
“With that architectural intent, what you see in here is old Pauley Pavilion under glass, basically. The pallet, the tools we have to work with on this campus, we think we put those together on this project and into a building that's going to stand out among the rest of the buildings and still work within the fabric of the university. ''
Here's some highlights of what's in store for Pauley Pavilion's future.
- The past, of course, will not soon be forgotten for an institution that was first to win 100 national championships and boasts 11 men's basketball national championships.
- Capacity will increase from around 12,000 to close to 13,000 fans for basketball games.
- Six hundred seats have been added to the upper level of the building, 400 on the floor.
- A tweak in structural design will provide added noise, per coach Ben Howland's request. Several more restroom facilities and concession stands will be available to spectators.
- Pavilion Club members have access to a 350-person room in the belly of the building.
- A statue of legendary coach John Wooden will be displayed adjacent to the Bruin Walk.
- A 70-foot walkway from the locker room to the floor will feature UCLA memorabilia.
- A players lounge includes top-of-the line TVs, as well as all-important computers access. Home locker room is on the east side of the building, the same side as the UCLA bench.Visitors locker room is on the west side of the arena, where the Bruins used to call home.
It better be, after a $136-million facelift. Win, lose or draw, Pauley Pavilion figures to attract its share of attention moving forward. Always has. Always will. The integrity of the facility, at its core, does remain intact. The accents on the inside and outside, however, are truly undeniable.