UCLA

UCLA's Pauley Pavilion: You Wooden believe it

$136 million remodel updates classic arena, yet keeps historic feel
2013-03-01T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T15:33:09Z UCLA's Pauley Pavilion: You Wooden believe itPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 01, 2013 12:00 am  • 

LOS ANGELES - Renovating one of the most historic arenas in college basketball required attention to the smallest detail, a way to usher in change without altering the soul of Pauley Pavilion.

For former UCLA coach John Wooden's daughter, Nan, it required pulling the right earlobe of her father's statue down a bit, before it was cast in bronze and erected, at 8 feet and 400 pounds, in front of the Bruins' arena.

For Ben Howland, it was finding the perfect wood surface.

"The new floor," the coach said, "was always my biggest deal."

The original Pauley Pavilion floor served UCLA from the arena's dedication in 1965 until 1984.

The second was intact until two years ago, when UCLA entered the major phase of its $136 million renovation after defeating the Arizona Wildcats in the season finale.

Wooden's great-grandson, Tyler Trapani, scored the game's final basket.

Howland, tired of a floor dead enough to make shin splints wince, searched for one with the perfect amount of bounce. He found the right recipe: 1-inch-thick maple, three-quarters of an inch of plywood and springy stringers underneath.

"It's really the most technologically advanced floor that's out there," he said.

The old one had "no life to it," Larry Drew II, the UCLA point guard who played at Pauley as a kid, said Thursday.

"The floor out there is alive," he said. "You can feel it under you when you're playing on there, especially with the crowd behind you."

The Wildcats will see the new arena - the floor, the crowd and the small details, from a tote board listing UCLA's 108 national titles across all sports to Woodenisms flanking old photos - when they travel to Westwood on Saturday.

"There's a lot of history and tradition back in that old gym," said Drew, a North Carolina transfer who redshirted last season, when the Bruins crisscrossed the Southland to play home games. "The opportunity for them to build a brand-new one is, we have a chance to pave the way and set our own legacies.

"At the same time, we're still a part of the UCLA tradition, which is great."

That was the trick in renovating Pauley - to perform a makeover while keeping the bones intact.

"With what we've done here, and all the things we've added, keeping the historic nature of the shrine of college basketball, I'm hard-pressed to say there's a much better place to go to a college basketball game," said Mark Harlan, UCLA's senior associate athletic director for external relations, who moved to Westwood from the UA 2 1/2 years ago.

He said the Bruins have raised about $70 million of their $100 million goal.

The Bruins added about 1,000 chairs, moving fans closer to the court behind either basket with retractable seats.

They flipped the court's configuration, moving benches and students across the arena, and added a script UCLA at midcourt rather than the traditional circle-and-star. A state-of-the-art LED video board hangs overhead.

What was once earth underneath the arena is now new locker rooms, film rooms, a basketball-specific weight room and a booster lounge.

"It's got all the things that you want to make it as convenient and as good as possible for your team," Howland said. "For the fans, everything being brand new - the modern-day scoreboard, the brand-new everything, brand-new seating."

In the concourse, once outside but now encased in glass, stands Wooden Way, displaying artifacts from the coach's life.

The concourse features a coffee shop, gift stand and more than 100 flat-screen televisions.

"I thought it was time - I thought it was much-needed," said Washington coach Lorenzo Romar, a former UCLA assistant. "It was a new day."

The Wildcats feel the same way about McKale Center, which will undergo an $80 million renovation between 2014 and 2017.

Like UCLA, the Wildcats plan to enclose the outdoor plaza areas around the arena. They'll likely add more than the 70,000 square feet Pauley did, and won't close their doors during construction.

Like the Bruins, the UA will have to balance the past with progress.

"We want to use the advantages we have and show our history," said athletic director Greg Byrne, who toured Pauley both before and during the renovation. "And at the same time look toward our future."

For UCLA, the future is now - but still intertwined with the past.

"What I really like about it is," Howland said, "it captures the history and the tradition of UCLA basketball."

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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