An artists rendering of the renovated Pauley Pavilion. (UCLA Athletic Department )
A good day for the UCLA basketball program started before players even took the court.
Hours before the tip-off against Arizona State, the Bruins athletic department received two unexpected donations of $100,000 each for the upcoming renovation of Pauley Pavilion.
Ross Bjork, a senior associate athletic director, said the gifts were part of a recent uptick that has pushed fundraising for the project to almost $62 million.
"There's a buzz around the arena," Bjork said. "Lots of activity."
UCLA has proposed $185 million in upgrades to the aging venue with an outer concourse, wider stairs and additional seating in the open spaces behind each basket.
There would also be new locker rooms, a VIP area and team meeting rooms.
The university plans to pay for these improvements with $100 million in donations, $60 million in financing, $15 million from a student activity fee and $10 million from a Student Seismic fee.
Critics have complained about ticket holders bearing the brunt of the cost and have wondered if the school can raise the necessary money.
Thursday was the final day for ticket holders to submit donations that would give them maximum bonus points for maintaining and improving their seating in the refurbished venue.
UCLA hopes to break ground on the project early this year. Pauley Pavilion opened in 1965.
-- David Wharton