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Where Will UCLA Play in 2012?

Scott Enyeart |
March 2, 2011 | 8:37 a.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Pauley Pavilion is closing for renovations. (Creative Commons)
Pauley Pavilion is closing for renovations. (Creative Commons)
The way the curtain closed Saturday on Pauley Pavilion couldn't have been more dramatic.

UCLA routed Arizona (ranked 10th in the nation at the time), allowing coach Ben Howland to empty his bench. At the end of that bench was walk-on Tyler Trapani, the great-grandson of legendary Bruins coach John Wooden. In the game's final minute, Trapani rebounded an air ball from fellow Bruin Jack Haley Jr., and scored on a layup.

It was a scenario that seemingly could only be found in a Hollywood script, Trapani's layup was the final basket scored in the gym that made his great-grandfather and NCAA championships synonymous.  

The game, and Trapani's goose-bump raising moment, marked the conclusion of a 46-year period in which Pauley served as the home of UCLA basketball. At the start of the 2012-13 season the Bruins will begin a new era in a renovated, modernized  Pauley Pavilion.

Next season, however, Howland's team is just looking for a place to call home.  

On the court, the Bruins are hoping to make a run in both the Pac-10 and NCAA tournaments. Off the court, UCLA administrators are already trying to determine where they'll be playing games in November. 

The original goal was for the Bruins to take up residency at The Forum in Inglewood, but, according to UCLA's athletic department, that won't be happening.   

"We have expended a considerable amount of time looking at the L.A. Forum as a preferred alternative," UCLA officials said in a letter to season ticket holders. "During this process, Madison Square Garden announced their intent to purchase the facility with the desire of turning the building into a concert hall. Although MSG was excited about the opportunity to host the Bruins, their future renovation plans will now preclude that from being able to occur. 

The task of finding a place to play next year is harder than you might think. So hard, in fact, that UCLA officials sent out a survey to ticket holders recently asking their opinions on the remaining possible host venues.   

According to the survey, the candidates and maximum number of possible games are: Citizens Bank Arena in Ontario, CA (3 games), the Honda Center in Anaheim (9 games), the L.A. Sports Arena (18 games), RaboBank Arena in Bakersfield (1 game), Staples Center (2 games) and Valley View Center in San Diego (2 games).  

UCLA noted that it did consider multiple Orange County/Long Beach area sites, but concluded that the Honda Center was the best option. They also eliminated Pepperdine, LMU and other local college venues due to a lack of seating capacity.  

The Sports Arena played host to the Bruins from 1959-1965 and is the only candidate with the ability to host UCLA's full home schedule. Also Sports Arena officials have "agreed to provide necessary cosmetic changes to enhance UCLA’s prospective participation and a potential retro-branding campaign," according to UCLA.

However, the Sports Arena's proximity to USC still poses a potential problem for some fans. 

"I think without question we're looking at the Bruin road show next year," Mark Harlan, UCLA's senior associate athletic director for external relations, told ESPNLA.

After the survey results have been calculated, UCLA will negotiate with the desired venues, finalize its home schedule and build unique ticket packages to accommodate fans for 2011-12.

For now, Howland and his team are focused on just keeping this season going as long as possible. 


To reach Scott Enyeart, click here. Follow him on Twitter, @scottenyeart.



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