April 08, 2011
Before USC moved into the newly built Galen Center in Oct. 2006, the basketball coaches were so embarrassed at playing at the aging Los Angeles Sports Arena that they typically wouldn't show the venue to recruits visiting campus.
Next season, UCLA will call that past-its-prime arena home.
With Pauley Pavilion undergoing massive renovations for the next year and not set to reopen until October 2012, the UCLA men's basketball team will play 14 of its 18 regular season home games 10 miles from campus at the Sports Arena. The Bruins will host the remaining four home games at the Honda Center in Anaheim.
"We will make the Sports Arena a great environment for our fans and our team," UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero said. "We will bring our championship banners and will paint our colors as much as possible in the interiors of the building, including the basketball court, to make it our home away from home."
Spending a season at the 52-year-old arena awaiting a wrecking ball won't be ideal for UCLA, but the truth is the Bruins didn't have many more appealing options. The presence of the Lakers, Clippers and Kings prevented Staples Center from committing to dates until mid-July, while the Forum in Inglewood became unavailable after its owners reached an agreement to sell to Madison Square Garden.
UCLA students will have the option of complimentary busing to games, similar to what the school offers for football games at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
UCLA solicited feedback from its season-ticket holders via email, asking how many games they'd ideally like to have in Anaheim, San Diego, Ontario and Los Angeles. The results of the survey suggested the majority of fans preferred games to be held in the Los Angeles-area, making the Sports Arena the most viable option.
"We've talked all year about taking our show on the road and I'm happy everything is set," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "The upcoming season will be unique for everyone involved but I am happy that we are playing most of our games at one facility and I know that our fans will continue to support us wherever we play."