Guerrero on Pauley Plans, Part 2

UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero sat down with Bruin Report Online to discuss the plans to renovate UCLA's hallowed Pauley Pavilion. In Part Two, he gets more into the details of what the renovation will entail...

UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero sat down with Bruin Report Online recently to talk in detail about the plans to renovate Pauley Pavilion.

In Part One, he spoke more about the background and research that has gone into the Pauley renovation project for the last two years.  Here, in Part Two, he gets more into the possibilities, and probabilities, of a renovated Pauley Pavilion.

So, right now, you're moving forward with finding the architect...

"We will be bringing in someone who can validate our initial concepts (Guerrero thumbs through some preliminary Pauley design plans). This does not necessarily represent the entire scope of the project. Certain elements of these design plans will definitely be included, but we have to look closely and determine what actually works and what doesn't.

"One thing for certain is that we will definitely center the court, and bring the bleacher seats close to the court."

Centering the court means moving it which way...

"West...and bringing both the east and west bleachers to courtside."

Would that dictate longer risers? Like those you see at the Pond?

"Or the Staples Center, right. This basically will help to create the kind of atmosphere we all seek and want to have in Pauley. We have met with bleacher specialists and have found this to be possible. But of course, it will not be without its challenges. Longer risers will require us to have platforms, with portable seats that need to be stored somewhere between games. We will also have other new elements in the facility…new seats, for example. We also may choose to have courtside seats behind the baskets and along the length of the court...perhaps even two rows of them."

New seating throughout?

"We would like to do that. Everything is on the table in those terms. We are looking to enhance the entire facility. New scoreboard, perhaps new ribbon boards, things that will give it a new look. I would like to showcase our national basketball championship banners in a way that makes them more prominent, more visible, to let fans, opponents and everyone who comes in here know that this is the house of the premier NCAA men's baketball championship program of all time. We will look at that...in addition to other sports that have won national championships in this arena. We will assess what's possible for their recognition. We will renovate our existing concourse area, providing more restroom and concession amenities, which of course are desperately needed. On the exterior, we will do some work to improve the aesthetic feel of Pauley, painting and adding brick cladding elements to the facility to make it more commensurate with the architecture of the rest of campus. We will also most likely change all of the door entrances to glass. The signature piece of Pauley is the roof and the trusses. Those would remain. Then, of course, there is the north side of the facility, the only space that allows us to expand.

"On the north side, we are looking to dig a big hole all the way down to the arena floor level. At the arena level, we build a new practice basketball court, state-of-the-art locker rooms for the coaches and players, more restrooms and storage areas and a media room. We would look to add a kitchen to service the facility for special events, and other elements for the teams, possibly a weight room, a training room or film rooms. Everything that we do on the north side would be designed such that we could make it accessible at every level to Parking Lot 7.

Above the arena level improvements, we would look to have a mezzanine level that would include an arena club for our premium seat holders, possibly overseeing the practice court. This, of course, is still in concept. We are also looking at all options relative to the seating layout of Pauley Pavilion.  We are analyzing the location of the team bench and scorer's table. It's very important we maintain a great student atmosphere, so the location of student seating is being analyzed in order to keep them highly involved in the game.  The other aspect of our study is related to our Athletic Fund donation program and how people obtain their season tickets.  All factors 
of seating at Pauley Pavilion are being analyzed, but new club seating would have access to amenities for pre-game, half-time and post-game and to parking lot 7."

The TV cameras would go on which side?

"We haven't decided that yet. We have to consider all elements, including marketing issues, such as advertising opportunities, which helps pay the bills."

I know that luxury suites were considered...

"It has been considered and it is not off of the table. The key will be the direction we go relative to the north-end renovation. Blowing out the north end of Pauley completely and re-building that entire end gives us the opportunity to possibly incorporate suites, or club loge seats of some type. But we need to investigate that further. Pauley Pavilion is built on piers, which create unique construction issues. We just need to assess the cost versus the benefit. Relative to suites as an element to be incorporated, we need to evaluate whether the economics work and whether it is a desirable element for our fans. We need to assess return on investment and what is happening both regionally and nationally with the suite market in arenas and stadiums. There is analysis that indicates a downward trend nationally at the moment, but that doesn't necessarily mean it won't work here. It may make more sense to upgrade our premium seating area by having wider, more comfortable seats, or simply a higher quality seat...something of that nature...and allowing those seat holders access to the club. This may be a better alternative for a greater number of people compared to the build-out of suites for only a few."

In the context of the UCLA fan base, have you done an analysis whether suites are cost effective?

Yes, to a degree. At this point, based on our conversations with certain stakeholders, the answer would be no, especially if we were only doing it on one side and the number of suites was limited to 12 to 14. However, we are in the process of exploring this notion further with a more definitive cost analysis and a more professional market study. If we were to incorporate suites they would likely be at mid-arena level, but even that is a design element that would need to be evaluated."

Not hanging from the rafters, like in a past plan?

"No, blowing out the north end like I described earlier allows us to incorporate suites, or loge boxes, or enhance our premium seating as part of the renovation of that side of the building."  

Across the country, there isn't a high percentage of college basketball arenas that have luxury suites, is there?

"It depends. If you look at some of the newer arenas that have been built and where they are located, you may find some with suites. Some arenas that have been renovated in the past few years, however, have not incorporated suites in their design plans.  For example, the University of Missouri built a brand new arena for $75 million dollars that is absolutely fabulous. Their arena includes suites, club loge boxes, a major donor hospitality area, full kitchen, practice basketball court, locker rooms, coaches offices, administrative offices and on and on. I toured the facility last year. It made sense for them to incorporate all of those elements because in Columbia, Missouri, the University is the only game in town. They were able to build the arena with one $25 million gift, with required capital campaign gifts from season–ticket holders, and an appropriation from their state legislature. The suite and club loge revenue now helps them primarily with their operations. Any suite revenue garnered at Pauley would likely be used to fund the extra debt on the building due to the additional costs of adding the suites. Texas also renovated the Frank Erwin Center which included the build out of suites in their plans.

"The other example is right in our own back yard at some of our Pac-10 collegues. Cal's renovation of Haas Pavilion, Stanford's renovation of Maples Arena and Washington's renovation of Hec Edmundson Pavilion all left suites out of their plans. Arizona doesn't have suites in McHale Center, nor does Arizona State in their facility.

"We are giving it a good, hard look. I don't want to rule out anything in this regard.

Then, again on the north side, above the mezzanine level, at ground level, we are looking to build a large enclosed concourse area that would serve as the main entrance to Pauley from parking lot 7. The concourse would improve circulation and incorporate concession and, perhaps some merchandise elements."

And a Hall of Fame area as you enter the arena? 

I would envision more of a "Concourse of Champions,"
which focuses more on team recognition, as opposed to individual recognition, but of course it will have elements of both. This concourse also provides a naming right opportunity for us to help pay for the construction. More importantly, however, as I just said, it allows us to be creative in ways that can showcase the great national championship teams that we've had at UCLA over the years. Our Hall of Fame in the Morgan Center is our testimonial to the great individual student-athletes we've had at UCLA. This concourse area can allow us to do terrific things with graphics and banners, display cases, some interactive features. Who knows? It's exciting to think about what we might be able to do here. So, we'll see. The national championship trophies will remain in the Morgan Center Hall of Fame, at least the first 100, once we reach that milestone. We will need to find more space for the next 100 after that, won't we?"

So, how much do you forsee the cost of the project to be?

"As I said earlier we have been looking at this project for a couple of years now.  We have done a great deal of the ground work by talking to the right folks and putting a program in place that meets the needs of all of the users. Based on this feedback we have some preliminary concepts in place, as you have seen, that can range anywhere from approximately $65 million to $120 million in today's prices. When we decide definitively what the final scope of the project will be, then we will put a price tag on it. When that actual number is determined, we can then finalize our game plan for generating the dollars."

It definitely then, is a matter of you first determining what you want, then finding the money for it, rather than what you can do being dictated by how much you can raise…

"Yes. We'll design the project such that it gives us all of the elements that we want, those elements that are important to our coaches, student-athletes, students and fans. It's about appeal, no doubt. I want to renovate Pauley so that it has a "wow factor." I believe this is important to our fans and for prospective student-athletes as well. But, of course, it must all be done within reason. The Acosta Center renovation has proven to be a real plus for our program. Our student-athletes and coaches appreciate what we've done there and it is very appealing to our recruits. This is what we need for Pauley."

So, as a general statement, you have your space, your limitations, and you have an idea what you want to do, and then you start determining what you can do exactly, and that's what will determine exactly what is included?

"Right. As I indicated, we have a footprint constraint. Our ability to maximize square footage within this footprint gives us the best chance to incorporate all of the elements in the scope of the project that we would like to see. I mentioned the proposed north end development at the arena floor level. The more square footage we can gain there, the more features we can include, in the size rooms that are desirable, such as the practice basketball court, the media room, the locker rooms, and all of the other things I mentioned earlier."

What are the absolute definites that will be done?

"Inside the arena, centering the court and bringing the end bleachers to courtside. That's an absolute for me. The amenities on the north arena floor level in support of the teams, such as the locker rooms, an absolute. Building that practice court gives our kids another venue to work out and shoot when they desire. It's also great because they won't need to encroach upon intramural league play or any other activity scheduled in the facility. This is important for our players. Expanding concessions and restrooms for the fans, an absolute. Creating a new image, a different impression is an absolute, though I want to continue to preserve the integrity of the Pauley Pavilion that we all know and love."

The club room for donors?

"When you dig that big of a hole, you need to fill it with something. A club of this type is needed for a program of this magnitude, of this stature. A club room doesn't just serve our premium seat holders on game days, it can help to meet other programmatic needs for our department and the campus. For example, we could hold team banquets there. As you know, we use the Morgan Center press room for many of our pre-game activities, but this facility would be larger that the press room, allowing more people to benefit. It will be great as a pre-game, half-time and post-game meeting space, with plasma TVs and all of the bells and whistles."

Building out to the north, is there any scenario where you wouldn't do that?

"Possibly, but not likely. Nothing goes off of the table at this point. The architects may ask us to consider another option, if there is one. We shall see."

Have any funds been raised to date?

"We have received one seven-figure commitment that came to us unsolicited. At this time I cannot announce who made the contribution, but it warms my heart to know the donors and what they represent. I know there are rumors that we have raised money for this project. Other than what I have just said, we have not solicited any funds for this project yet. Ross Bjork, our new Sr. Associate Athletic Director for External Relations and I have met with many individuals, including high-end donor prospects, relative to this project. Our responsibility has been to inform them of
the progress, solicit their input and let them know that we will be seeing them again down the road. People are excited, primed to assist in making this a reality and prepared to step up to whatever degree they are capable of financially. This project will be become a reality almost exclusively through donations and I can assure the only way it gets done is if everyone in the Bruin family contributes, whether it's $100, $1,000, $10,000, $1million, or $50 million. Every contribution, at any level, will be important. As is always the case, the fundraising is the hard part. There are many arena projects that get started on college campuses and don't get completed for many years because of the fundraising aspect. That is why everyone needs to step up."

Are they individuals or corporations?

"We have not spoken to corporations, but that is not off of the table. If corporate support is needed to make this project work, then we are open to exploring this option. The ideal scenario would be to generate all of the necessary funds for the project through philanthropic means, individuals making donations through private gifts, trusts, stock options and the like. Our first priority was to meet with the Pauley family. They have been absolutely fantastic. They are completely supportive of our efforts, our direction, and they understand the dynamics that may be required in order to complete the renovation, including some form of corporate involvement. So there may be a strategy that involves a corporate component in some fashion. We are in the process of ascertaining the type of interest that may come from corporations."

Will the name ever change?

Our intent is to keep the Pauley Pavilion name intact. However, as I just cited, it may be necessary for us to add to the Pauley Pavilion name in order to land the lead gift that will launch our fundraising effort. The concept would be similar to what the University of Washington did with their arena: Bank of America Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion, or like Frank Marshall Field at Drake Stadium here on campus. It could be the Pierson Arena at Pauley Pavilion or something like that. Is adding a name to Pauley Pavilion the most desirable option? Not in my book, but these are the kinds of things you sometimes need to do in order to get projects completed.

"The reality is that we will need that first major gift to launch the campaign to get us going, whether there is a naming right attached to it or not. The size of that gift is predicated on the estimated cost of the project, which is still being determined. After the lead gift, you go after other seven-figure and eight-figure gifts, and hope you land them. There are other naming right opportunities in the project as well, the practice basketball court, the locker rooms and other elements that will have a price-tag on them.

"We will put collateral pieces together to give to our prospective donors and we hit the streets and raise money and raise more money.  We start construction after the architect completes all of the working drawings and we raise enough capital to satisfy the University."

How long will this architectural phase be?

"Once we finalize defining the scope, we can get the architects to work with us on the cost estimate, which allows us to begin our fundraising. This will occur in the next couple of months."

If you had to estimate, how long would the entire renovation process take?

"I know you would like a firm answer, but I can't give you one. The scope of work that incorporates the two-phased approach, the building renovation itself (as a first phase) and the north end renovation (as a second phase), could probably occur over a two-year period between seasons. The best-case scenario is that the basketball season is not interrupted. It would impact both volleyball programs and gymnastics to some degree however, and that would be unfortunate.

"If we decide with the option of blowing out the entire north end, we would most likely lose a season of basketball in Pauley because we would plow through the entire renovation."

So, it could be a two-year deal from start to finish, if you do the two-phased approach, with work being done between basketball seasons...

"Based on what I've been told, if we went with the two-phased approach, the answer would be yes. That assumes no unnecessary delays or major changes, of course."

So one phase would be the internal renovations to Pauley Pavilion and then the second phase would be the project on the north side?

"Yes."

If you did blow out the north side and decide to play someplace else, where would it be?

"The Staples Center would be the first place we would look. We have a great relationship there. Their facility is booked solid, however, so we would need to be creative to carve out some time there. We also have a very good relationship with the folks at the Pond in Orange County."

Would the Forum be considered?

"You can't take anything away as a possibility at this point. At this point in time our focus is not on the displacement issue."

How do you think the new facility will help in recruiting?

"I believe it is a factor, though it may not be the primary factor. The primary factors continue to be the school, the coach, and whether you can win. A new facility demonstrates to recruits that the University and its fans truly care about their program and their athletes. This says a great deal to those blue-chip recruits that we are attempting to land. With a newly renovated facility comes a new enthusiasm, a new energy...and, when you do it right, great atmosphere, which players and fans like. What athlete doesn't want to be a part of that?"

Is there any kind of hesitation to bring the seats close to the floor, since it's been said that Coach Wooden didn't want to give the home team an unfair advantage?

"Ross and I met with Coach Wooden at his home in Encino to show him some design concepts and, of course, to get his feedback. He very much liked what we were doing. He was very pleased that we involved the Pauley family coming out of the gate and he is very pleased that the facility will continue to bear the Pauley name. He is so grateful to them for playing such a major role in making the arena a reality. He also agreed that it would be preferable to fund the project with donations, but understands that we may have to go the corporate route to some degree and include a naming right feature.  He did not raise any concern about moving the end seats to courtside, but he said he often wondered why UCLA hadn't centered the court long ago. One thing that Coach has always supported is the notion that the visitor's locker rooms should not be of lesser quality than the home team. He was happy to hear that after this season we are planning to convert the present visitor's locker room, on the east side of Pauley, into the new temporary locker room for our men's team. We will also improve our restroom situation down there as well for our fans. We will also move our women's team into the present men's locker room and move the visitor's into the present women's locker room. All this is possible through the support of some great Bruin fans, who own a construction company and are donating labor, materials and professional services in order for this to occur."

Is it possible to renovate the two ends of Pauley without having completed all of the plans for the entire renovation?

"Yes, we can renovate the west and east end interior spaces, where the locker rooms are located, as I just indicated. Moving the bleachers on the east and west to courtside may be possible, but it makes sense to do it all when we begin the renovation. We might look at putting temporary floor seating on the west end until we complete the renovation, but that's another thing for us to investigate."

Will, say, the soccer locker rooms remain in Pauley?

"Both soccer teams will have new lockers in Acosta Center by next year, so we can proceed with the temporary renovation as I described."

So getting back to the financial aspect...it sounds like there are some more donors already prepared to donate, but no money figures have necessarily been discussed...

"What needs to be made clear is that we have spoken to people, who are poised to move forward. But we can't responsibly solicit donations unless people know what we're doing, and we want to make sure we get it right. We need the appropriate collateral pieces and those
 
things that are required to show the prospect exactly what we intend to do.

"Turning the table here a bit, what do you think is the one major concern for fans?"

I think, first, that the project isn't seriously compromised by funding limitations and that the renovation is up to industry standard.

"When you say industry standard, you can go to Missouri and look at that arena and it's phenomenal...club loges, suites, brand new. It's a beautiful facility. We visited that facility to get ideas for our renovation, but it was built for only $75 million. That facility on our campus would cost three times as much, if not more. So clearly, some things are feasible and some are not.

"I can say though, that our Pauley project will include everything we determine we need in the facility. It will be as nice as any arena in the Pac-10. When you walk into Pauley, it will compare to other facilities nationally and be nicer than many of them. After all it's Pauley Pavilion."


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