If you poll most modern college basketball fans, few can tell you which program currently holds the most NCAA championships. With 11 National Championships, ten of which Coach John Wooden is responsible for, UCLA is the leader, three more than traditional powerhouse Kentucky.
Pauley Pavilion, originally opened in 1965 and was named for the primary donor, Regent Edwin W. Pauley. The original cost of the facility eclipsed the $5 million mark with contributions coming from the state, the student body, and the alumni. Like the Duke Blue Devils, the court itself is given its own name to honor an individual that made countless contributions to the program. On December 20, 2003, former coach Wooden and his wife, Nell, were honored as the court was named "Nell & John Wooden Court."
Pauley Pavilion was designed to accommodate various athletic events. Prior to the renovation, the baseline seats behind the visiting team’s 2nd half basket was a great distance from the floor. Legend has it that Coach Wooden, the gentleman he is, wanted it that way to prevent his teams from having an “unfair advantage.”
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When visiting Pauley prior to the renovations, Stadium Journey gave a generous score of "2" for the food and beverage category. The updated arena probably experienced its biggest improvement in terms of concessions.
One of the more notable enhancements is a section along the south concourse that has large garage doors that can be lifted into a large open-air section for fans to enjoy during one of the many beautiful Southern California days. Within this area, food trucks can occupy the space and provide additional concessions for fans. In addition, this area also provides an extended concourse for fans to roam as well as dining tables, a much-welcomed addition since it provides fans more room to dine as well as stretch and roam while providing the opportunity to soak in the outdoor elements. The area for food trucks can allow UCLA to rotate vendors easily based upon fan favorites, preference or projected attendance.
The inner concourse, now widened significantly, also offers many new vendors with video boards, allowing menu items to be changed out easily and providing fans an illustration of some of the food items that they are purchasing.
The most common stand is known as the "UCLA Bruins Homestand." Here, the main entrée seems to be encased meats as the options included the Bruin Dog (1/4 lb for $5), regular hot dog ($4.25), chili cheese dog ($6.50), or bratwurst ($8.75). Other common arena items found here include nachos ($4.75 or $6 for the loaded version), popcorn ($3.75), soft pretzel ($4), peanuts ($3) or churro ($4). Assorted ice cream options are also available for $5 each.
The newness to the concessions comes mostly from branded vendors. Subway is on hand with $7 six-inch sub and $2 bags of chips. California Pizza Kitchen has several of its signature pizzas ($11) and salads ($9). Jamba Juice offers its smoothies for $6 and other assorted snacks.
The beverage menu is rather limited with soda options limited to Coke (Diet) and Sprite ($3 for 16 oz, $3.50 for 24 oz, and $4 for 32 oz). Other beverage options include lemonade $3.50, Dasani Water ($4 for 20 oz and 1 liter for $6), Powerade ($4), Red Bull or Odwalla juice ($4.50). Hot beverages include coffee and hot chocolate for $3.50 each.
The moment you approach Pauley Pavilion you feel a heavy sense of tradition. If it is your first time coming to a UCLA basketball game, you will want to enter through the north entrance. Outside the north entrance is a statue of the late John Wooden, the man responsible for 10 of the 11 National Championship banners that hang in the rafters.
Like with any historic venue that undergoes a renovation, fans at first can be resistant to change. But even the most storied venues get an occasional facelift, and Pauley is no different. When the facelift was complete, Bruin fans quickly warmed to her new look as the renovations not only provided much wider concourses with improved dining options, but countless displays throughout that pay homage not only to UCLA basketball's storied history, but its other athletic programs as well. UCLA's programs have amassed 112 national titles. It would be very difficult to miss its proud history.
One of the more notable parts of any Bruins game is the "8 Clap." This cheer consists of 8 consecutive claps, lifting your right hand and shouting "U," followed by 3 claps, lifting the left hand and shouting "C," followed by 3 claps, then alternating hands and doing the same for the "L" and the "A." Then quickly they chant "U-C-L-A" while rotating hands and "Fight! Fight! Fight!" You will certainly hear this at least a dozen times during any game. Another Pauley tradition fans participate in occurs when a Bruin player gets fouled and scores the basket. The announcer states the player's name followed by "at the line to complete the THREE POINT PLAY," shouting along to the final three syllables.
If UCLA is comfortably ahead by 10 or more points with 2 minutes remaining in the game usually until play stops inside the 1 minute mark, all 4 sections of Pauley yell out each letter of U-C-L-A, with each section yelling their own letter and moving on to the next.
The popular area just outside of campus is known as Westwood Village and there are certainly options for everyone. During weeknight games, players from both teams are known to roam around The Village. Most will say hi and take pictures with you.
If you're in the mood for a drink, Barney's is the main watering hole for thirsty fans. Diddy Riese has been serving ice cream and cookies to Westwood since 1983. Lines can be pretty long for this popular vendor, serving up ice cream sandwiches for the student friendly price of $1.75. Not your same old chocolate wafers with vanilla ice cream between them, you can choose from 12 flavors of ice cream as your filling and from 10 types of freshly baked cookies as your "bread."
Sepi's Giant Submarines is another local favorite. With a menu that offers nearly 20 different subs and 5 wraps among other things, fans are sure to find their favorite. Newly remodeled with televisions and a nice selection of beers, this place can make for an inexpensive evening to watch the Bruins if you are not at Pauley.
Fat Sal's is also another local favorite that serves up huge sandwiches. The one I always get is the Fat Bruin, served up on extra wide hero bread with cheeseburgers, chili, bacon, onion rings, fries ketchup and garlic aioli.
For such a storied program, one would think the fan rating would rank high. However, since Pauley's re-opening in 2012, UCLA hoops has had a difficult time filling the seats at this storied venue. Sure, there are various reasons why UCLA has had a hard time consistently filling the seats to the point ushers on most nights will not prevent fans from moving down closer to the action. In all fairness, Pauley is not the only Pac 12 hoops venue that has had attendance issues. To the majority of Bruins fans, a trip to March Madness should be a given, so yes, expectations will always be high. Attendance during conference play generally tends to pick up, especially against rivals Arizona and USC. When things are going EXTREMELY good for the Sons of Westwood, the stadium can be rocking. When the team plays below expectations (to UCLA and its fans standards anyways), the crowds can be extremely sparse.
The UCLA campus is located in Westwood, and as a result, fans are likely to face some frustrating traffic on the way to the game. To get to Pauley Pavilion, you'll likely take either the 10 Freeway or the 405 Freeway and take the Wilshire or Sunset Blvd exit. If it is a weekday game, traffic is inevitable, especially on Wilshire. With construction of additional campus facilities taking place close to Pauley, I would strongly advise using the Sunset Blvd exit. Aside from traffic not being as congested as opposed to Wilshire you will have an easier time finding parking. From the Sunset exit you will want to drive west on Sunset until you arrive campus. Not only will campus and Pauley be visible, you will also see signs directing you toward the parking garage.
Once you approach the arena, take note of the many signs directing fans to the parking. Most spots go for approximately $11 and appear to be in a secure garage. If staying on LA's west side, several of Santa Monica Big Blue Buses operate inside campus and will drop you off a short walk from the venue. Given Pauley Pavillions location, like with most any venue in LA, give yourself plenty of preparation time, and bring plenty of patience.
For most games, including conference, advance ticket planning is not necessary. Box office ticket prices can range from $23 for 200 level seats to $67 for 100 seats. With most games not selling out, tickets can be found below face value on various third party sites.
Pauley Pavilion has transformed from a "no frills" arena to a leader of the college basketball extras. Any fan could spend the duration of a game perusing the exhibits showcasing Bruin basketball history. The first stop for any newcomer must be the John Wooden statue outside of the arena. This life-sized statue lists his years with the program and one of his more memorable quotes on a plaque below. Inside the arena, fans may also note an empty seat behind the Bruins' bench. This seat was where Wooden would sit once his coaching days ended, so the school keeps it open as a tribute to him.
Once inside the arena, fans will spot many "Incredible Moments" signs on pillars throughout the concourse. Difficult to miss with their UCLA blue and gold color scheme, these signs honor many of the great achievements in Bruin sports history.
Next up, fans from all walks have to respect the banners hanging above the court. No other NCAA Men's program has as many NCAA Championship banners as the UCLA program has on display at Pauley. Now eleven in total, the first of the championships came in 1964 and the most recent occurred in 1995. Each of the banners has a blue background with gold print showing the year and the phrase "National Champions." While many schools proudly display their conference championships, UCLA scoffs at such an idea. In fact, while UCLA won the NIT tournament in 1985, the banner has not been visible since 1995. This sends a clear signal that this culture aspires for only the best. Prior to the renovation, the banners were located along the rim of the court. With the banners currently hanging above the court, the 11 banners give Pauley that special imposing presence.
Beginning in 1990, UCLA began retiring the jerseys of several of their notable players. The first two inductees to be named were Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (#33 who played as Lew Alcindor) and Bill Walton (#32). In 1996, four additional players were retired as Walt Hazzard (#42), Sidney Wicks (#35), Marques Johnson (#54), and Ed O'Bannon (#31). In 2004, a seventh member was added as Gail Goodrich (#25) also had his number retired during the game that commemorated the 40th anniversary of UCLA's first championship.
Lastly, fans need to take a stroll down Wooden Way, where they will find one of the more interesting collections of college basketball memorabilia that they will ever encounter. There is John Wooden's Pyramid of Success, hardwood from previous UCLA home courts, a list of All-Americans, the wall of champions, signed basketballs, and much more.
The recent facelift to Pauley Pavilion has vastly improved the game day experience beyond expectations. With much wider concourses, improved sightlines, enhancements to the scoreboard, and the various additions that pay tribute to many a great UCLA basketball moment, including the statue of John Wooden, a trip to a UCLA game at Pauley should be on every collegiate hoops fans bucket list. If you are one who appreciates a deep history, give yourself plenty of time before and after the game, and perhaps halftime, to check out the numerous displays throughout the concourse, particularly those along the east concourse, appropriately named Wooden Way.
All that is left now to really give old Pauley that premium game day experience is to consistently fill the stands. LA fans can be a demanding bunch. A return to national prominence will certainly bring the fans back in droves.
Follow my journey's through L.A. and SoCal @good_drei on Twitter.
When you think about championship banners, venues such as the Boston Garden, The Forum, and Yankee Stadium come to mind. When you take these thoughts to the collegiate level, Pauley Pavilion has to be at the forefront. With now eleven Men's Basketball titles under its belt, the home of the UCLA Bruins is sure to intimidate any opponent.
The facility was opened in 1965 and was named for the primary donor, Regent Edwin W. Pauley. The original cost of the facility eclipsed the $5 million mark with contributions coming from the state, the student body, and the alumni.
Like the Duke Blue Devils, the court itself is given its own name to honor an individual that made countless contributions to the program. On Decemeber 20, 2003, former coach Wooden and his wife, Nell, were honored as the court was named "Nell & John Wooden Court."
The arena has 10,337 permanent padded seats and an additional 2,482 seats in the form of retractable bleachers giving it a total capacity of 12,829 although some of the bigger games have eclipsed 13,000.
If you poll most modern college basketball fans, few can tell you which program currently holds the most NCAA championships. Even more surprising to most is the gap between the UCLA Bruins and the team the second most. The Celtics hold most banners in the NBA, the Yankees control the World Series trophy in MLB, but the blue and gold holds an NCAA-most eleven basketball championships.
The original facility was opened in 1965 and was named for the primary donor, Regent Edwin W. Pauley. The original cost of the facility eclipsed the $5 million mark with contributions coming from the state, the student body, and the alumni. Like the Duke Blue Devils, the court itself is given its own name to honor an individual that made countless contributions to the program. On Decemeber 20, 2003, former coach Wooden and his wife, Nell, were honored as the court was named "Nell & John Wooden Court."
As the venue was nearing its 50th anniversary, it became clear that a major upgrade was needed. During the 2011-12 season, the Bruins played many of their home games at the Memorial Sports Arena (near the campus of rival USC) while a $136 million renovation was completed on Pauley Pavilion. The renovation added approximately 70,000 square feet inside of the arena, concourses that would now be up to 40 feet wide, 154 percent increase in the number of restrooms, 1,000 additional seats, and a new high definition scoreboard.
The renovated facility was re-opened on November 9, 2012 against Indiana State University. While the opponent for the grand re-opening may not be a notable rival, there was certainly significance as Indiana State was the school Wooden coached prior to UCLA.
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