Nov. 10, 2012
By Amy Hughes
After pre-game ceremonies opened the doors for the sellout crowd of over 13,800, the rejuvenated Pauley Pavilion and the 2012-13 UCLA men's basketball team were on display for all to enjoy.
Speaking at the pre-game ticket ceremonies on Bruin Walk near the John Wooden statue, UCLA Director of Athletics Dan Guerrero spoke of the process that got Pauley Pavilion through its renovation to re-opening.
"In 2005, when our engineers on campus came to me and explained that Pauley's building systems had outlived their useful life, we knew that we had to move forward and do something with the building. We were determined to preserve the magic of Pauley while still transforming it into a state-of-the-art facility. We believe that we accomplished both of those goals."
UCLA re-opened this historic facility playing against the only other University that can claim John Wooden as a head coach, Indiana State, and recorded an 86-59 win.
"It was a real strong win for us, to open up new Pauley Pavilion," said UCLA head coach Ben Howland. "We were hyped up in the beginning and were going a little too fast, missing shots we would usually make. It was the first time the players saw the lights go down, the new introductions and the phenomenal crowd."
The crowd was engaged early, as UCLA honored the storied history of Pauley Pavilion by packing plenty of memories into opening ceremonies.
The lights went out shortly after 7:45 p.m., just before UCLA mascot Joe Bruin zip-lined down to the corner of the Nell and John Wooden Court, triggering indoor fireworks and setting up the UCLA band drum corps, cheerleaders, and dance team to start things off.
A video on the scoreboard featured highlights of Pauley's history from February, 2011, back to the facility's opening in 1965.
Tyus Edney, a member of UCLA's 1995 NCAA Championship team, was featured in a pre-taped statement on the video board, which led into a series of historic men's basketball moments in Pauley's history, ending with the key player from each moment being recognized on the Pauley floor. Those players included:
A final video followed before the Bruins made their way from the new locker room to the court, coming home after a full season playing off-campus while Pauley Pavilion was renovated.
Starting lineups were preceded by the National Anthem, performed by Flea, bassist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and then the game was underway.
Matt Pauley, grandson of Edwin W. Pauley, served as the co-chair of UCLA's Pauley Pavilion Campaign of Champions.
"When Pauley Pavilion opened in 1965, it was one of the greatest arenas of its time. Part of Coach Wooden's plan was to give teams a huge home court advantage. Pauley Pavilion and generations of great Bruin fans did just that. However, I don't think Coach Wooden, or my grandfather, or any Bruin fan could have predicted all the history that would take place here.
"My grandfather wanted this arena to be a boon for UCLA teams, as well as a focal point for the entire UCLA campus. I always felt that it lived up to his wish. Whether you're a student-athlete, a fan, a student, a graduate, a part of the extended Bruin family, Pauley Pavilion has been a central part of your UCLA experience.
"Not only does it have the best amenities, but it will be more flexible, more functional and more suited for hosting sports, concerts, and all types of student events. I love the way it honors UCLA's amazing history. The championship banners still hang from the rafters. It is still the Nell and John Wooden Court. We still have the heart and soul of what makes Pauley Pavilion great."
A student at UCLA in the 1980s, Jim Cosgrove is now a long-time season ticket holder in section 106 and is thrilled with the renewed facility.
"When I first came in for the open house and saw the concourse area, it just blew me away," said Cosgrove. "And then when I came in [to the arena], it was still Pauley. It has the same atmosphere. It's updated, but it still feels the same."
Pauley Pavilion will have another chance to shine on Saturday night as the UCLA women's basketball team opens its 2012-13 season against San Diego State at 7 p.m. Any fans holding a commemorative or actual ticket from Friday night's men's game can use that ticket for entry into Saturday's women's game.