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Seating is fans' main concern at remodeled Pauley Pavilion

UCLA BASKETBALL

Donors for the $185-million project can be expected to get priority over longtime ticket holders.

May 12, 2009|David Wharton

The color drawings depict a sleek, modernized arena, complete with terra cotta accents along the facade, a grand lobby and row after row of new seats.

But as UCLA officials unveiled their vision for an updated Pauley Pavilion on Monday afternoon, filling in blanks about a proposed $185-million project, an equally important question lurked in the not-so-distant future.

The university will look to trade choice seats for big donations, which could prompt some season-ticket holders to worry whether they will be pushed farther from the action.

"I think people are going to be concerned about the seating plan," Athletic Director Dan Guerrero said. "That's probably the biggest issue."

Big enough that officials decided to postpone giving any details at their announcement ceremony, opting to use the next few weeks to review the situation.

Guerrero said his department is trying to hone a point system that balances new donors with loyal fans who have stuck with the Bruins for decades.

Matt Pauley -- the building bears the name of his grandfather, Edwin W. Pauley -- said he has seen details of the plan and called it equitable.

"They've done a really good job," said Pauley, who serves on a volunteer board helping with the "Campaign of Champions" fundraising effort.

Seating is only one part of a redesign that seeks to transform the hallowed but aging venue by the fall of 2012.

Proposed changes would begin outside the building, where the traditional roof trusses would be accented with terra cotta and glass. A new main entrance to the north would open to a lobby adorned by towering pictures of Bruins greats.

Wide concourses would provide space for expanded concession stands, restrooms with three times the current number of toilets and a merchandise store.

Inside the arena's bowl, somewhat treacherous aisles would be regraded with evenly spaced steps and handrails, and every seat would be replaced.

The design firm, NBBJ, has also centered the court and filled the empty spaces behind each basket with retractable seating, increasing capacity to almost 14,000.

Coach Ben Howland addressed a crowd that gathered for Monday's announcement, talking about "the experience the fans are going to have, being closer to the game, on top of the two teams that are playing."

A high-definition video scoreboard would hang overhead and an LED ribbon board would circle the arena.

The athletes would also benefit with locker rooms, a film room and weight room beneath that big front lobby. There would be a subterranean Pavilion Club for special events.

Officials said they have secured $52.5 million in commitments, halfway to their goal of $100 million.

The rest of the construction costs would be paid with $25 million from existing student fees and $60 million from external financing.

UCLA hopes to start attracting construction bids by the end of the year, breaking ground by next spring.

According to the current plan, work would begin on the exterior and the north side of the arena, with teams continuing to play there through the winter. The Bruins would have to relocate for the 2011-12 season.

Talks have already begun to find a temporary home for the men's and women's basketball teams.

Guerrero said he would like to see UCLA play some nonconference games -- and perhaps the USC home game -- at Staples Center, but working around the schedules of the Lakers and Clippers could be difficult.

A more likely spot would be the Forum. The Bruins might also schedule a few games at the Honda Center in Anaheim, where they have played in the John R. Wooden Classic.

After the new Pauley Pavilion is completed, it would carry significant debt service and the Pauleys have told UCLA they would not mind if the university sold naming rights.

At most, Guerrero said, the university might attach a corporate name to the family name.

Meanwhile, the men's team will help pay for financing by generating incremental revenue, Chancellor Gene Block said.

That's where the donations for good seats come in.

Officials, who will announce their points plan July 1, don't expect to please everyone.

But, Guerrero insisted, renovating Pauley Pavilion at this time "is clearly the best course of action for UCLA."

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david.wharton@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Pauley facts

EDWIN W. PAULEY PAVILION

Location: UCLA campus

Opened: June 1965

Capacity: 12,829

Architect: Welton Becket

Construction cost: $5 million

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Did you know?

UCLA began playing basketball at Pauley Pavilion during the 1965-66 season, winning its first 51 home games before USC ended the streak, 46-44, on March 8, 1969 -- the only blemish on the Bruins' 29-1 record that season. However, before Pauley Pavilion opened, the Bruins used several local -- and one not-so local -- venues for their home games. Among them:

* Venice High

* Long Beach Arena

* Santa Monica Civic Auditorium

* Los Angeles Sports Arena

* UCLA Men's Gymnasium

* Pan Pacific Auditorium

* Olympic Auditorium

* Beverly Hills High

* Bakersfield*

* -- UCLA played only one game in Bakersfield, defeating Santa Clara, 60-58, on Dec. 8, 1956.

Source: UCLA.

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