Coach Ben Howland called it a sacrifice his team will make to play in a updated, state-of-the-art Pauley Pavilion next season, but when UCLA opens its season against Loyola Marymount on Friday night at home in the Los Angeles Sports Arena, there are several UCLA administrators who hope the Bruins and their fans don't feel like it's a big one.
And if the early indicators are any sign of what's to come, it should be a fun season for everyone interested in UCLA men's basketball.
The marketing team at UCLA sent more than 20,000 fold-up road maps to its season ticket holders and alumni that is titled 2011-12 UCLA Men's Basketball Bruin Road Show, with center Joshua Smith finishing a dunk on the cover with a map of the Westside behind him. Unfold the map and it details how UCLA will be playing its home games at the Sports Arena (14 of them) and Honda Center (four games), some details on UCLA's history at the Sports Arena (it's rich), the season schedule and how to order tickets.
It's a clever way to approach a season in which UCLA forecasted less revenue, and it's not the only thing UCLA will do to drum up support from its fan base.
Scott Mitchell, UCLA associate athletic director of marketing and business development, said the Bruins are looking to update their game day presentation while away from Pauley Pavilion in preparation for next year.
"What the UCLA fan sees, feels, associates with game day, we've skewed toward our tradition and history in the past, and we'll continue to have that as a focal point," Mitchell said. "But there are a lot of 18-to-22 year-olds (that represent UCLA basketball fans), and we have the opportunity to do some different things (to attract them to games)."
Sunday's exhibition game in Ontario at the Citizens Business Bank Arena showed a few new features for fans - namely a DJ spinning popular music during breaks to add another layer of festivities to the atmosphere and an emcee to complement the Public Announcer and help with different fan events.
Mitchell said UCLA intends to listen to its fans as it tries new things and focus its attention on what excites its fanbase.
"The DJ will be in the student section (on Friday), so we'll see how that works," Mitchell mentioned. "We'll change based on what gains traction."
It's not just DJs and free T-shirts, which cheerleaders will be throwing to fans at home games either. Ken Weiner, senior associate athletic director of business operations, said UCLA has worked diligently with the Sports Arena to update the venue and make it feel like UCLA's home court.
Weiner said the outside of the venue will have blue lighting, the team will use last year's Pac-10 Tournament court with updated UCLA decals and logos, and even the old chairs of the Sports Arena will be updated to represent UCLA.
"They've upgraded the venue for us," Weiner said before showing a picture on his mobile phone of a new scoreboard being put together. "We're doing everything we can to make it home."
Howland said he was impressed with the work done on the home team locker room when UCLA hosted a closed scrimmage against Cal State Fullerton at the Sports Arena last week. And while Howland knows it's not going to be the same as playing games on campus, he appreciates some of the history between UCLA and the Sports Arena.
"Coach Wooden was coaching there before Pauley, so I kind of like that," Howland said. "Hopefully, we become tougher mentally because we're on the road. It should make us tougher."