After a joint media session with Dan Guerrero, I caught up with him for a few minutes, and here’s what he said…
Why the decision to renovate rather than tear down and rebuild?Dan Guerrero: “One of the driving forces to do what we’re doing is because after an analysis of the building, we came to realize that the infrastructure – the mechanical engineering, the plumbing – had outlived its useful life. We brought in two independent estimators to evaluate the situation and give us a cost for replacing those two things. The cost at that time was somewhere between $50-$60 million; there isn’t an athletic director in America who can go out and raise $60 million for pipes. So it really pushed the envelope in terms of our need to really assess and evaluate and move forward with a project – whether it was building a new project or a renovation, we knew we had to move forward.”
When did you first hope to put the plan into action?
DG: “My predecessor Pete Dalis had in the back of his mind that something needed to be done. You go back, and there have been various discussions – there was one point where they were going to hang suites from the roof structure, and they had actually received deposits for that. There were always ideas of upgrading or giving it a face-lift. When I first got here in 2002, there were a number of things we needed to do. First and foremost, we needed to increase our budget. We were at a $42 million budget, today we’re at a $65 million budget. We needed to be very aggressive in terms of our ability to optimize the various assets the campus had. As we evaluated the entire project, we looked at facilities. We needed to complete (the Acosta center), we needed to put field turf on Spaulding, we needed to make upgrades on Easton and Jackie Robinson. And then there was Pauley, which we knew would be eventually something we needed to look at. But no one signs up for this when they become an athletic director. It just sort of happens on your watch. But the responsible thing to do at this appropriate time, was to see what might be possible.”
You mentioned the term “face-lift;” is this a facelift, or major reconstructive surgery?
DG: “This isn’t a facelift. This is a major transformation. It is Pauley Pavilion, but it’s going to look like a brand-new, state of the art facility when it’s all said and done. People will clearly know its Pauley when they walk in the door – in a lot of ways, the inside of the arena will be very similar – but it will all be redone. New floor, new scoreboard, new ribbon board across the top, new seats, new bleachers that will get you closer to the court, improved amenities, more points of sale, more concessions, more bathrooms. It will be visually very pleasing, and it will be exciting.”
How important was it for you to retain the “essence” of Pauley Pavilion, rather than start from scratch?
DG: “There are a lot of basketball arenas being built across the country, and all of them are being built to aspire to what has been accomplished at Pauley. There are 11 national championship banners that are hanging in that building for men’s basketball. There aren’t too many arenas across the country that can do that. It was important to us that to the extent that we could transform Pauley, that we retain the essence of what that building stands for. You know, 39 national championships have been won by teams that perform in Pauley – volleyball, gymnastics, in addition to basketball. It means a lot to people.”
Banners going to Great Western Forum?
DG: “(Laughing) We’ll do that, no doubt. No doubt. That’s a good question. We haven’t thought about that, but yeah.”
Last question: Tell me your first Pauley Pavilion experiences.DG: “I came to UCLA in the fall of 1969, and we had already started our run, so I walked into a situation where I didn’t see our team lose very many games at Pauley Pavilion. In fact, I never saw our team lose a game at Pauley Pavilion in my four years. Student-athletes, we ran down the tunnel and got to our seats behind the basket on the east side. It was an absolute joy to watch our teams play. The Wickes-Rowe-Patterson year, Walton coming into town with Wilkes, Dave Myers, who I absolutely loved watching play. Dick Enberg doing the broadcasting, and I’d go home and watch the replay at 11 o’clock.
“It was a magical time. I’d love to be able to do that again.”