Guerrero on Pauley Plans, Part 1

UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero sat down with Bruin Report Online to discuss the plans to renovate UCLA's hallowed Pauley Pavilion, from the initial research to the plans going ahead right now...

UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero sat down with Bruin Report Online recently to talk in detail about the plans to renovate Pauley Pavilion. Here's Part One of that conversation.

So let's go over the background of how the project to renovate Pauley Pavilion began…

"When I first arrived at UCLA, there were several issues that required my immediate attention, ultimately helping to set the agenda for those first twelve months. It was necessary, of course, to concentrate on evaluating the organization…how it was set up, reporting relationships, functional alignments and getting to know our personnel. It was important for me to assess the status of the overall program in a general sense, but critically important to pay particular attention to evaluating the coaching situation in our two marquee sports: football and men's basketball. The decision to make changes in the head coaching position for both of those sports required me to focus significantly on assuring that the resources necessary for those coaches to build those programs were in place. This required an unprecedented fundraising effort that was new to UCLA Athletics, but imperative for giving us the best chance to succeed down the road.

"In the course of assessing the status of our entire program during the first year, it became rather clear what challenges loomed ahead for us, both short term and long term. Facility development and enhancements were among those needs identified. For the short term, we needed to garner the resources to complete the Acosta Center, (which will be completed this year), we pegged Easton Stadium as a priority because it was long over-due for a facelift (completed last year), and we slated Spaulding Field for renovation to include synthetic turf to help prepare us for games that are increasingly being played on this type of surface (to be completed after spring ball this year). In every case we needed to raise the funds to complete those projects and this, of course, takes some time.

"In Baseball, with the hiring of John Savage as Head Coach, and with the expectation to eventually get our team to Omaha, we needed to begin thinking about upgrading certain aspects of Jackie Robinson Stadium. Our fans will see new chair-back seats in ballpark green during this coming year to replace the bleachers that have been at Jackie for many years.

"In addition, I also knew that for Football, enhancements to the Rose Bowl, especially in those areas that impacted recruiting, were critical. Our new agreement with the Rose Bowl requires the City of Pasadena to make over $13 million in improvements, including new state-of-the-art locker rooms, new media/interview room, improved operational amenities and seismic upgrades. They are working on these improvements as we speak. Looking at facility enhancements to the Rose Bowl was important because, based on the feedback of our fans, we wanted it to be our football home for many years. We are still not finished talking about the future of that venue and what may be possible down the road.

"My analysis also focused on Pauley Pavilion. I knew that this would be the project that would draw the most attention and as such it was going to require the most review and planning. It is a very unique and complicated project for a number of reasons. When you begin to look at a project of this magnitude, it opens your eyes to a number of things: the present condition of the facility, what it might look like in the future, the potential barriers and constraints, timing, funding…all of those things that will factor in to the ultimate decision on how to attack this project.

"We must take into consideration the historical aspect.Pauley Pavilion is hallowed ground. The process of laying the ground for this project began about two years ago. Ben Howland was still in his first year at UCLA, but we began discussing programmatic needs even at that time. Since then we have talked to various focus groups, selected season ticket holders, donors and alumni. We have talked to student-athletes and coaches to gather their impressions.

"As I previously indicated, there are aspects of this project that can be complicated. As you may be aware, Pauley Pavilion does not fall under the auspices of Intercollegiate Athletics. It is actually a facility that is controlled by Cultural and Recreational Affairs. We have a terrific relationship with them and Athletics has always enjoyed scheduling priority in the facility. That being said, it is a facility that was designed to serve the greater needs of the student body, including club sports, intramurals and other  campus programming, such as Commencement. The multi-purpose aspect of Pauley Pavilion, as we look forward, will continue to remain and that will undoubtedly have an impact on certain design elements and what we ultimately may able to do.

"Secondly, the hallowed ground aspect of Pauley led us to target our renovation and design focus on preserving the integrity of the past, the original Pauley Pavilion, while moving into the 21st century. In doing so, we will focus on spectator and fan amenities, creating the kind of atmosphere that our players and coaches desire, and providing the infrastructure elements for our coaches and student-athletes that will make this venue special. As we move forward, these elements will be part of the charge.

"Another unique aspect that complicates the Pauley renovation to some degree is the footprint and the inherent constraints. Expanding the facility is compromised by the adjacent facilities: the Acosta Center to the west, Spaulding Field to the south and the underground utility infrastructure (for the west part of campus) to the east. North, towards parking lot seven and the intramural field, is the direction that allows for expansion. As such this is where we will concentrate most of our attention.

Did you consider razing the building and starting from scratch?

"When you look at a project of this magnitude you initially consider all options. We asked the question: would it be appropriate for us to knock down Pauley Pavilion? The feeling was no…if you knock it down, it will no longer truly be Pauley Pavilion."

If you did, would it considerably open up the potential of what you could do?

"You would still have the same footprint and you would still have the same programmatic needs that I spoke of earlier. But it could be designed differently, no question about that."

But you're still limited by what's around it…

"Right, as I mentioned earlier, we still have those constraints. Going back to the time that Pauley was originally built, I am told that it was initially designed to be a larger facility. The University, probably due to cost considerations, had to value-engineer the project resulting in the reduction of square footage and ultimately the concession and restroom problem that we face today. Other items that were negatively impacted by that process were some of the back-of-the-house areas, like locker rooms, storage space and those kinds of things. Pauley is woefully inadequate in these areas. Look at our media room as another example…we don't have one."

The media was in the soccer locker room last season…

"Exactly. So that's the issue. Another unique consideration for a project of this magnitude is identifying a construction lay-down area. It may seem like a minor detail, but it is very important.  It's one thing to identify a renovation lay-down area, it's entirely another thing if you are going to knock down Pauley and pull everything out of that hole. The reality is that you can do anything for a price, but the millions of dollars that we would spend pulling everything out of the hole could be better used elsewhere. Would it make sense to spend that kind of money razing Pauley…most of the people we have spoken to say no."

So razing Pauley is off the table…

"Yes. It's off the table. We are part of the University of California system and unless someone wrote us a huge check for an amount like $200 million or so that can be cashed…"

Cashing it is key…

"Right. There is a debt capacity issue with the University of California that will be a major factor on how this project unfolds. There are debt capacity limitations on every UC campus. A project of this scope brings the debt capacity issue to the forefront, especially in combination with other major projects that are being built on our campus, like the hospital. This has a major bearing on our ability to raze versus renovate.

"So that brings us to the decision to renovate. We will soon be bringing in a design professional to validate the scope of our project and to work with us on additional possibilities. We have worked very closely with our capital planning folks on campus as well as a local architect to garner a clear understanding of what issues exist with our present arena. Understanding every aspect of our present situation in Pauley helps us in our planning for the future."

Part Two is coming soon...

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