May 29, 2012
This past week was certainly a notable one for UCLA Athletics. Our teams competed valiantly in post-season competition across the country, and we won another conference championship here at home.
Meanwhile, a series of events held throughout the Southland in the past month have served as an introduction for Head Football Coach Jim Mora, as well as an opportunity for Head Men's Basketball Coach Ben Howland to talk about the 2012-13 Season and the re-opening of Pauley Pavilion. Among the special events was our annual Director's Circle dinner, held last Wednesday evening. Hosted by the Wooden Athletic Fund, this dinner is an annual "thank you" to our top WAF donors and is especially important because the WAF provides valuable support for all UCLA student-athletes. The 80-plus attendees, including several of our head coaches and myself, dined at Palmeri Ristorante in Brentwood, and it was a wonderful event.
Many of the people with whom I spoke at the dinner asked me to provide an update on the renovations to the Rose Bowl and Pauley Pavilion, and having obliged them, I wanted to take some time this week to share these with you as well.
As those of you who were at football's Spring Game already know, what was formerly known as the press box at the Rose Bowl is undergoing a major face-lift, part of the $160-million stadium renovation. Although the new, seven-level tower doesn't have an official name yet, stadium officials have decided that, because the addition encompasses much more than a location for print media and broadcasters, it shall receive a new name. From one Bruin to another, I can promise you all that some more exciting news on that front will be officially announced at a later time.
The three levels of suites, loge boxes and club seats are being designed to closely resemble the first-class seating options at new stadiums that have opened across the country in recent years, as well as renovations to Fenway Park and Michigan Stadium.
Though it will not be complete until the 2013 football season, approximately half of it will be finished and functional by this season. That said, at this juncture, it still remains much of a shell for now, with a great deal of progress slated for this summer; please see the latest images below of the press box, an escalator and the widening of one of the north tunnels.
For all the latest updates on the renovations, visit HERE.
Meanwhile, the construction at New Pauley continues on-time and on-budget. Almost every day now, new pieces are going up both inside and outside the building. In fact, just two weeks ago, the lockers were installed in the men's and women's basketball locker rooms.
We are looking forward to opening the doors this fall with a festive "Welcome Back to Pauley" week full of activities for the UCLA community as a whole, following in short order by our first men's and women's home basketball games of the 2012-13 season.
Take a look at some of the most recent exterior and interior photos here ...
Season tickets for both football and basketball are still available for next season. Please visit UCLABruins.com or call 310-UCLA-WIN for more information or to purchase your tickets today.
Though we are certainly excited about what lies ahead for us in the coming years at those two venues, some unfinished business remains for four of our teams this school year:
*The #3-ranked UCLA men's golf team plays at a familiar course, Riviera Country Club, in the NCAA Championship this week, beginning today. You can purchase tickets on-site at Riviera to cheer the team on in person. All-session tickets are $30, daily tickets are $10 (cash only).
*The UCLA men's track & field team has qualified six athletes and a relay team for the NCAA Championships June 6-9 in Des Moines, Iowa. The women's track & field team has three athletes and a relay team competing as well.
*The #2 nationally-seeded Bruins baseball team defended its conference title for the first time in school history (tied for first, but earned the NCAA automatic berth by winning the Arizona series) by sweeping our cross-town rivals this past weekend at Jackie Robinson Stadium. I was out at Jackie for all three games and was delighted to see such great crowds supporting the team. On Saturday, I had enjoyed a special treat, seeing some of the Bruins from the 1958 Bruin team, such as Ernie Rodriguez and Artie Harris (the real star of the movie Moneyball, in my book anyway). They were in attendance, along with several of their teammates, all of whom have been following this year's team all season.
It has been an extraordinary season for our baseball team thus far. This team did not lose a mid-week game all year, sweeping strong programs at Fullerton, Long Beach and Irvine, while also beating NCAA tournament #2 seed Pepperdine in its only contest against the Waves. It also had the best record in the country away from home at 20-4. In fact, the Bruins won at least one game against each of the opponents they faced this season. Kudos to the NCAA selection committee for recognizing the excellence of this squad and granting it the #2 national seed.
Of particular note is that this team features arguably the finest junior class to ever perform for the Bruins, a class that is largely responsible for the greatest three-year run in terms of wins in the history of UCLA baseball.
The Bruins came off of a trip to Omaha when I entered UCLA as a freshman baseball student-athlete in 1969. The teams from 1967 to 1969 featured many great Bruins, some who were later teammates of mine. Names like Rick Pope, Gary Sanserino, Steve Klausen, Steve Runk, Jim York and, of course, the great Chris Chambliss, were all storied Bruins during this time, and players that I looked up to and admired.
That group set a standard that lasted for more than 40 years and was remarkably surpassed by this set of Bruin juniors, who, to date, have won 128 games in three years, more than any other Bruin junior class. With games to take place this weekend, the beat goes on. I hope to see all of you in the stands packed with Bruin fans this weekend, when we will serve as host to the University of San Diego, New Mexico and Creighton in NCAA Regional action at Jackie Robinson Stadium starting Friday. Tickets are on sale now HERE, single-game tickets will be available for sale beginning Friday.
In addition, prior to Friday's 7 pm first pitch in the UCLA-Creighton game, the Wooden Athletic Fund will be hosting a "pep rally" at Barney's Beanery, 1037 Broxton Avenue in Westwood, between 4-6 pm. This event is free and open to all Bruin fans, and food and drinks will be available for purchase.
Meanwhile, in the past week, two of our outstanding women's teams wrapped up their seasons:
*The women's rowing team made program history several times at the NCAA Championships, finishing a program-best eighth place overall, qualifying its first-ever boat (2nd Varsity 8) to the Grand Finals, and qualifying all three boats to the Semifinals. Congratulations to Head Coach Amy Fuller Kearney, her staff and athletes for a terrific season.
*The women's golf team also placed eighth at the NCAA Championships, only 10 shots behind Alabama, who led from wire-to-wire. Carrie Forsyth was honored with a well-deserved West Region Coach of the Year honor after a great season in which her team won a national-best seven tournaments, which ties a school record for victories in a single campaign.
Ask Dan Question of the Week
Dan: How come we get plenty of SEC and Big 10 softball, baseball, tennis, and other sports on our local cable stations, but no UCLA? I would have loved to have seen the NCAA softball, tennis and golf events.
A: Gary, as for the SEC events you may have seen, that conference has signed a television contract with the ESPN family of networks that also includes a set number of baseball and softball telecasts each year. Additionally, there is a strong likelihood that many of the Big Ten events that you watched on television were being broadcast on the Big Ten Network, which airs nationally. That type of coast-to-coast exposure is one of the main reasons why the Pac-12 decided to create seven networks (six regional plus one national) which will be launching this fall. All of us in the Pac-12 fully understand the need to get all of our sports, ranging from football and men's basketball to our Olympic sports, more local and national exposure, and having our own network, or in the case of the Pac-12, networks, is the best way to assure that. Finally, in terms of the NCAA Championships that you mentioned not being on TV, the discretion of what NCAA events are televised lies firmly with the NCAA and their broadcast partners. The NCAA Championships that are not televised are usually streamed online, as were both tennis championships.
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