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UCLA Basketball at Los Angeles Sports Arena

By Sean MacDonald -- February 10, 2012 3:06 PM EST

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The UCLA Bruins, arguably the most venerable NCAA basketball team in history, usually play their home games on campus at Pauley Pavilion. Built in 1965, Pauley was in obvious need of renovations. After years of discussion, those renovations were started late in 2011, forcing the Bruins to find a temporary home for the 2011-12 basketball season. Los Angeles is not without several suitable venues, and the Bruins decided upon the equally historic Los Angeles Sports Arena as their main arena, playing 14 games here (the Honda Center in Anaheim was the site of four more games). What is most interesting is that the USC Trojans play at Galen Center, just a half-mile north on Figueroa Street. It is hard to imagine another league with two venues so close to one another.

On February 9th, the Bruins hosted the Stanford Cardinal and Stadium Journey was on hand to see how the old Sports Arena was faring. The arena was opened in 1959 after 15 months of construction that cost just $8.5 million (still only $66 million in 2012 dollars). The USC Trojans were the first team to be regular tenants, playing there from 1959-2006, when they moved to the Galen Center. The Lakers (1960-67), Clippers (1984-99), and Kings (1967 only) have also played here over the years, as have many defunct franchises, such as the WHA's LA Sharks (1972-74). Even the Bruins played here from 1959-65, so it was a homecoming of sorts.

Despite its age, the venue has been well maintained, having undergone renovations to strengthen its resistance to earthquakes among other improvements. There are no luxury boxes here which means even the 3rd level of seats is relatively close to the floor. For Bruins games this season, general admission tickets are $15, while the 2nd-level loge seats go for $30-$40. There were no seats at the arena level available at the box office, but people had extras and were looking for $30.

The single concourse is more than wide enough, while another concourse in the seating bowl encircles the court. You can walk around here while the game is ongoing without disturbing people in the upper deck. But don't stop too long in one spot as you will asked to return to your seat.

There are several UCLA National Championship banners that have been moved from Pauley Pavilion but otherwise this is just a temporary facility and had nothing else of note related to the program.

There were a couple of interesting food choices: bacon-wrapped hot dogs (genius, combining pork and pork products) and candy apples. For those with less adventurous taste buds, typical arena fare was also available at inflated 2012 prices.

The scoreboard over center court is four-sided with no other information than the score, foul count, and timeouts left, but there was a high quality video screen over the north end that showed live game action and replays.

The surrounding area is called Exposition Park and there is a lot to see as well, including the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the home of USC football, which has hosted two Olympics among other famous events. There are also three museums here and an entire day can easily be spent touring.

UCLA only have four remaining home games here before they move back to Pauley Pavilion for the 2012-13 season. If you have a chance, check it out; it is a rare chance to see a historic venue, made before money dominated the American sports scene.

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