First, with the sale of the Forum to Madison Square Garden by Faithful Central Bible Church, it's now uncertain whether the UCLA basketball team will play at the Forum next season. There were no agreements actually signed before the sale, and MSG wants to begin renovations of the Forum to turn it into a non-sports entertainment facility (concerts, conventions, etc). UCLA was never told that the Church was looking to sell the Forum, so this is a complete blindsided development. It's now apparent, however, that MSG may not begin Forum renovation plans until the spring of 2012, which would give UCLA the opportunity to use the Forum next season. UCLA officials met with MSG representatives this week to discuss the Forum's status, with more meetings planned within a few weeks.
Just a few weeks ago, it was thought that UCLA might have to put off the completion of Pauley's renovation since it would have to use Pauley for the 2011-2012 season. But recent developments with other venues have precluded that from happening.
Here are the other options, all in various stages of consideration:
-- The Staples Center – Initally thought to be too expense, the most recent info has UCLA playing several dates there.
-- Sports Arena – While many consider it a hell hole, it apparently isn't in such poor shape as believed.
-- Long Beach Arena – It perhaps is the most viable option. It holds 13,500 and, even though it's old, it's in better condition than the Forum.
-- The Honda Center – It would be good for several games.
If UCLA can't play at the Forum, sources are insisting that UCLA would be able to play the 2011-2012 season at a combination of these other venues.
Something else that could also put back the renovation: a lack of funds. We have heard that there could be some major donors reneging on their pledges. We've heard various reasons – from the impact of the recession to a distaste for the renovation plans. UCLA had about $70 million pledged or donated toward the $130 million project cost, and a source said that upward of $30 million could be reneged. If that happens it could very well set back the renovation and the UCLA basketball team could find itself playing in Pauley for the 2011-2012 season merely because of that.
There are sources close to the Pauley renovation project, however, that said the worries over reneged donations is over-blown, particularly that of one donor, and that the donor funds are on target and the construction will continue on as scheduled. One source said that UCLA anticipated a normal attrition rate of donors unable to fulfill their pledges and it was pre-discounted into the budget. There were also concerns over the student fee commitment being reduced from $15 million to $10 million, but that fee is independent of the $70 million donation pledges.
There are also other factors that could further assist the fund raising. The pledged $70 million does not include naming rights, and any naming rights donation could be significant, and possibly even push the total commitments well into the comfort zone of that magic $100-million mark. UCLA has shifted its focus from the moderate donations (7 figures and below) to multi-million-dollar level donations to finalize the funding. There is also somewhat of a "sugar daddy" donor who had previously not been approached due to some extenuating circumstances, but now initial discussions have commenced.
Many of these factors could impact the cost of seats for season ticket holders. If UCLA does, in fact, get to the $100-million donation mark, it very well might reduce annual per seat donations from what was initially established.
We've also been told that there is a "more realistic model" being developed in terms of the cost for season tickets in the 300 sections of the new Pauley Pavilion. The original revenue and Pauley re-seating model was established pre-recession, and during UCLA's Final Four seasons. The one now being developed takes the current economic climate and the more recent drawing potential of the program into consideration.