May 1, 2012
Last week, I had the great pleasure of accompanying head football coach Jim Mora to two events on his speaking tour, one in Downtown Los Angeles and the other at the Rose Bowl.
It was an enjoyable experience watching our fans see the passion for football, our student-athletes and UCLA deep inside him as he spoke to the crowd. He gave everyone a glimpse of what made him such an attractive candidate when we conducted the head football coach search last December. The events were also a great opportunity for me to visit with Bruin fans and discuss the progress being made this spring and the expectations for the upcoming season.
On Wednesday, prior to the event at Rose Bowl, I took a tour of the renovation with Rose Bowl General Manager Darryl Dunn. I am happy to report that things there are moving quickly and that the City of Pasadena has done an incredible job of moving that project along. It is amazing to consider that construction, to the tune of almost $300 million, is in progress at both the Rose Bowl and Pauley Pavilion. There are very few athletic programs across the country that are making this magnitude of a commitment to their athletic facilities. Again, Pauley Pavilion is scheduled to open this fall, while the Rose Bowl project will be completed in time for the 2013 football season. It has been incredible to see these venues be transformed right before our eyes.
It seems like just yesterday that Spring Ball started, but here we are, just a few days away from the Spring Game this Saturday. Because of a number of nagging injuries, the game will actually be more of a modified scrimmage than that which we had initially planned. But it will be exciting to see the team in "live" action at the Rose Bowl, watching the players battle for starting positions. As the stadium's primary tenant, we are honored to call the Rose Bowl home, and, with your help, we can make it one of the toughest places in America for opponents to play.
When you arrive for the Spring Game on Saturday you will notice that, due to the construction, the west (press box) side will be unavailable for seating. I understand that a good number of you have season tickets in that area, but this will be temporary, and all seats will be accessible come the start of the 2012 season in the fall.
Despite the modified seating arrangements for Saturday, if you are planning to come out to the Rose Bowl, please be sure to bring family and friends, as we will have an afternoon full of activities on tap, including a fan zone with a food truck festival and the opportunity to meet Bruin legends. This will all begin at 1pm, with the game starting at 5pm. The evening will conclude with an autograph session on the field, which is always fun for all (especially for our team ... just watch them as they talk with all the kids).
I look forward to seeing you there!
Football Select-A-Seat Also This Weekend
Saturday and Sunday will also mark our annual football Select-A-Seat at the Rose Bowl.This event is always well received by our fans since it enables season ticket holders to optimize their seating choices. In essence, current season ticket holders have the opportunity, via scheduling an appointment, to go behind the scenes at the Rose Bowl, including touring the locker rooms, and then proceed to the Bowl to improve their seats for 2012. Fans who are interested in purchasing new season tickets are welcome to attend an open house after season tickets holders have completed the process on Sunday afternoon between 4-5 pm. For more information, please click here.
A Bruin Coaching Legend Passes Away
I was saddened Friday night when informed of the passing of former UCLA men's swimming coach Ron `Stix' Ballatore, following a long battle with bone cancer at age 71. Ron was a truly great Bruin who coached UCLA for 16 seasons and led the Bruins to the 1982 NCAA Championship. In addition, he coached 28 Olympians, including Brian Goodell, who won two gold medals in 1976, and Tom Jager, who won two golds in 1984, two golds in 1988 and one gold in 1992.
Ron was voted into this year's upcoming UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame's class, and I was so fortunate to be able to notify him of that distinction and speak with him about it before he passed away. He was so excited and honored to be a member of the exclusive club. Though he will be sorely missed at the induction ceremony, we are looking forward to having his family with us to reflect on his amazing achievements here at UCLA.
Our thoughts and well-wishes certainly go out to his wife, Ann; daughters Lisa, Jenne and Angelina; and sons Ronald and Brent.
UCLA-USC Track Meet Creates a Buzz
Last Sunday afternoon, the atmosphere at Drake Stadium for the UCLA-USC dual track and field meet was decidedly festive. Not only did the heated rivalry for Los Angeles bragging rights bring out many of the track and field loyalists in the Southland, but thanks to the I'm Going to College program, youngsters from all over the Los Angeles area were treated to a wonderful afternoon of competition, as the Bruin men's team posted a big 23-point victory, and the women's team picked up eight event victories despite a loss.
Bruins Guards Ward Off the Rest of the NBA
Sunday evening, as I scoured the Internet for sports news, I came across an amazing set of statistics about our men's basketball program. In all, nine former Bruins are competing in the 2012 NBA Playoffs. And, on Saturday, UCLA alums started at point guard for their respective teams in three of the four games played ... and the fourth game featured a Bruin point guard who played more than 20 minutes for his team. Very impressive.
Olympic Sports Report
Championship season is upon us for several of our teams, while others played in important conference match-ups over the weekend:
Ask Dan Question of the Week
Q: Where will the (men's basketball) Final Four be held in 2013? Will it ever be held in New Pauley Pavilion in the near future? If not, why?
A: Thank you for the question, Emile. The 2013 Men's Basketball Final Four, the 75th in NCAA history, will be held at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Pauley Pavilion has had a long history of hosting NCAA events, including some Final Fours, but since the NCAA adopted a policy of only hosting the Final Four in "mega venues" in 1997, the seating capacity at Pauley precludes it from hosting a Final Four, or, for that matter, even a Regional. However, once Pauley re-opens, UCLA will certainly look at postseason possibilities, based on the criteria established by the NCAA. We know that hosting women's basketball early rounds is definitely a possibility.
In addition, national champions will definitely be crowned in Pauley in the future. As a matter of fact, we will be hosting both the NCAA Gymnastics and the NCAA Men's Volleyball Championships a few weeks apart in the Spring of 2013.
Thank you all for your submissions - please know that each question submitted was read, and please don't forget to submit a question to firstname.lastname@example.org this week.
Director of Athletics, UCLA