Thousands of UCLA students flocked to the newly renovated Pauley Pavilion for the grand opening at Pauley Opening Madness, part of the 2012 Homecoming Festival and Welcome Back to Pauley Week. Starting in May 2010, the facility underwent a major 136 million facelift which not only upgraded the entire facility, but which managed to keep UCLAs memorable athletic history intact as well.
This important week at UCLA kicked off with the unveiling of the commemorative statue of legendary basketball coach John Wooden in front of Pauley Pavilion last Friday. When Pauley Pavilion opened in 1965, coach Woodens impressive record was 149 wins and two losses, and he held a 98-game home winning streak.
The history surrounding this iconic building includes 39 NCAA championship teams in basketball, volleyball and gymnastics; hosts of 1984 Olympic Games; concerts of well-known entertainers; and staged commencement ceremonies and other events for UCLA students.
UCLA gave away 10,000 tickets to students and 1,300 tickets to parents to attend the opening event, which included special performances, video tributes, introduction of the mens and womens basketball teams, interviews with coaches, a slam dunk contest, prizes and giveaways.
"Pauley Pavilion has always been the focal point of the campus at UCLA," said Nick Ammazzalorso, executive director of UCLA communications. "From all angles, its kind of the centerpiece of the campus and its always galvanized the campus. I think having a new building like this and the excitement around the mens and womens basketball programs and the other programs that compete here has really brought the campus closer together."
Students waited in line for hours to be the first into the new building. The mens basketball team will play the first official game Friday, Nov. 9, against Indiana State.
Students and parents were wowed by the new upgrades.
"I think Pauley Pavilion is an iconic building, and there are going to be some legendary memories here in my next four years," said Vishaka Sriniwasan, a freshman female student. "My favorite part of the facility is the arena and the den, because we are going to make it loud."
UCLA parent John St. Germain was equally impressed with the renovations.
"Its awesome," he said. "Ive got two kids here, and when we first came here it was under construction, and now that we get to see it in its glory it looks great."
The facility underwent some major upgrades to make Pauley Pavilion one of the best in the country. In addition to the new arena, the facility features brand new mens and womens locker rooms with cherry wood lockers and a comfortable lounge area, complete with computer stations. Adjacent to the locker rooms are a new weight room, training room, equipment room, media room, and a 24-seat theater.
Newly-appointed mens volleyball coach John Speraw feels the upgrade completes the package and will definitely help in recruiting.
"UCLA has so many great things about the institution," he said. "The academics, the sport services, everything an athlete would want, and now we have a first- rate gym to go along with it. It almost completes the entire package that is UCLA athletics. I think its a wonderful experience for not only our student athletes but our fans.
"The locker rooms are incredible, really nice. They will be a great place to get ready before you come out here and compete."
The environmentally-sound building also features a bevy of upgrades, but still possesses the classy Pauley Pavilion feel.
The interior concourse that surrounds the building honors the 108 national championships on the Championship Wall, All Americans and the Wooden Way, an area devoted to the legendary coach John Wooden and memorabilia.
There are new concession stands feature the likes of Jamba Juice, Subway and California Pizza Kitchen. There is a new Bruin Team shop, a multi-purpose Pavilion Club and team amenities at the event level.
Internally, there are 1,000 more seats than the old Pauley, with 13,800 comfortable chairs and an unreal custom-designed 16x12 LED, four-sided High Definition Daktronics Video board above center court. These improvements will bring the fans closer to the action.
In addition to the main video board, there are LED hustle boards in each of the corners that will track player statistics, as well as an LED ribbon board encircling the top of the arena that will keep everyone stimulated and informed throughout games.
The new lighting and sound system is state-of-the-art and will provide a tough environment for opposing teams to play in. The sound in the gym is definitely louder thanks to the new sound system and the students.
"The way its set up now," Ben Howland said. "It just brings everybody closer. It has a great feeling to the building now. Were looking forward to next week."
The biggest geographical upgrade is the convenience for the students. Instead of having to trek all over LA to different venues, students can attend games right on campus. Game attendance is predicted to rise greatly because of the location.
Junior forward Travis Wear sees a huge difference in the new Pauley.
"Its awesome to be on our campus again and see all the support from our fans," he said. "Having all these renovations done are like night and day difference to the old Pauley. So much easier for our fan base to come and support us, which is awesome."
When asked about his favorite upgrades, Wear said, "The court is a lot more bouncy and the jumbotron."
All the new bells and whistles have made huge aesthetic improvements to Pauley Pavilion, but not one coach or athlete will forget the legacy coach Wooden and past athletes left behind and the honor that it is to play in this arena.
"Its an unbelievable honor to play here," said Howland. "The program has so much history and tradition. There are so many great players that have come through here, the athletic program as a whole. When you think about UCLA athletics, its the best program in the country and we are very fortunate to represent them."
Freshman guard Kyle Anderson, who just got cleared by NCAA officials to play, is excited for next week for his first game at Pauley.
"Its a very great honor to play here," he said. "You look up and see all the banners and great tradition, programs and coach Wooden and Kareem Abdul JabbarEverybody that came through UCLA. When you get out there and play you want to meet their standards."