Pauley's no problem for Bruins fans


So now that USC has a state-of-the-art basketball facility, what do UCLA boosters in Hollywood think about their place, Pauley Pavilion?

"I'm sure every red-blooded Bruin wants to see the team playing in the best facility. We are all pretty competitive," says Howard Welinsky, senior vp administration at Warner Bros. Theatrical Distribution and a seasoned UCLA supporter. "One of the bigger needs is putting fans closer to the action, especially along the baselines."

Pauley Pavilion, which opened in 1965 on the Westwood campus and was built for about $5 million, seats almost 13,000 for basketball, but that includes about 2,400 spots for spectators in retractable wooden bleachers. There are no luxury suites, and amenities and revenue opportunities common at modern-day arenas are missing.

But Pauley is dripping with hoops history, with 11 men's basketball national championships and a roster of players that includes Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Bill Walton, Sidney Wicks, Reggie Miller and Ann Meyers. Legendary coach John Wooden, who turned 96 on Saturday, still attends games and signs autographs.

"The challenge for Pauley Pavilion is maintaining the integrity of the past," UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero says. "Our main constituency base has made it abundantly clear that it is extremely important as we move into the 21st century. So we are not going to knock down Pauley Pavilion and build a new facility. What we want to do is maintain and preserve Pauley in its present configuration and give it a face-lift."

That includes upgrading locker rooms and concession stands, adding restrooms and improving the seating arrangements along the baselines and sidelines. Improvements will be made when funds become available, Guerrero says.

Bruce Rosenblum, president of Warner Bros. Television Group, is in an unusual position: He received an undergraduate degree from USC and a law degree from UCLA.

"I have spent many hours watching games in Pauley," he says. "It clearly is antiquated, yet at the same time there is unquestionably a certain mystique created by all those national title banners for volleyball and basketball that hang from the rafters.

"Still, I expect if we are having this conversation again in 25 years we will see a significant number of banners hanging in the Galen Center as well."

Perhaps longtime Bruins season ticket holder, veteran agent and ATA president Sandy Bresler says it best. "Any building, your house even, if it is 40 years old, it needs work. But UCLA can play in a closet and they still are a good team," he says.

Does the impact of the Galen Center on USC concern him?

"Will it enhance their program? No question," Bresler says. "I think it is great they were able to raise the money, but let's wait until the product warrants the building. It's a bit early to book travel plans to the Final Four."

Randy Williams