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UCLA gets a sizable pledge for Pauley Pavilion

COLLEGE SPORTS

Casey Wasserman is giving at least $20 million to arena project, sources say.

July 14, 2009|David Wharton

With the University of California Regents meeting this afternoon to review the proposed Pauley Pavilion renovation, multiple sources say Los Angeles sports executive Casey Wasserman has pledged $20 million to $25 million to the project.

That would represent a substantial portion of the $100 million in donations that UCLA hopes to raise for the $185-million upgrade of its aging arena.

The amount was disclosed by sources close to the project who asked not to be identified because Wasserman has declined to comment.

In an interview last week, Wasserman said his family's charitable foundation does not, as a rule, talk about its donations.

"We'll make a commitment when the time is right," he said.

The UC Regents were originally scheduled to review financing for the project in spring but held a limited meeting by telephone because of swine flu concerns.

The issue will be raised today in an open session of the Committee on Grounds and Buildings in San Francisco.

UCLA has proposed to pay for the upgrade with $100 million in gifts, $60 million in financing, $15 million from a student activity fee and $10 million from a student seismic fee.

Improvements would include an outer concourse around the building, wider stairs and additional seating in the open spaces behind each basket.

There would also be subterranean facilities, including locker rooms, a VIP area and team meeting rooms.

Critics have questioned whether the university can raise the necessary funds.

Wasserman has yet to sign a commitment, the sources said. Yet, with his expected gift, he represents the biggest donor so far, with others offering in the seven-figure range.

Ross Bjork, a senior associate athletic director, said the school has raised about $54 million in cash and pledges.

"Some people want to support the project the best they can," Bjork said. "They're saying, 'I can give a half-million.' "

Season-ticket holders will shoulder part of the burden. Many are being told they must donate to the capital campaign to maintain their seats.

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david.wharton@latimes.com

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