The UCLA Bruins have, at long last, found a home: the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
Finding said home, where the Bruins will play in 2011-12 while historic Pauley Pavilion undergoes remodeling, was not as easy it might sound. UCLA had originally planned to play most of its home games at the Forum, but that building was recently sold to the owners of Madison Square Garden, who have their own renovation plans for the next year or so. After that move fell through, UCLA considered arenas all over Southern California -- from the Staples Center to the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego to the RaboBank Arena in Bakersfield. Because after all, nothing screams "storied college basketball tradition" like the Valley View Casino Center.
Instead, UCLA will play 14 of its 18 games in the L.A. city limits, with the other four coming at the Honda Center in Anaheim. This is decidedly good news for the Bruins. Ben Howland's team not only gets to set up shop at one locale, but it can do so in an arena that doesn't require its fans to traverse those miserable SoCal highways to, you know, San Diego.
What's more, UCLA apparently plans to make the Sports Arena feel just like home. From ESPN Los Angeles:
Athletic director Dan Guerrero said the school plans to transform the Sports Arena into a true home court by hanging its 11 national championship banners and painting the interior of the building and the basketball court in UCLA blue and gold.
"We will make the Sports Arena a great environment for our fans and our team," Guerrero said.
This presents something of a mental hurdle for fans. After all, the Sports Arena is located near USC's campus, and it just so happens to be the longstanding former home of the Trojans, who played there from 1959 to 2006, when USC's gleaming new Galen Center opened for hoops. Thanks to UCLA's unusual transience, though, the LA Sports Arena will now be adorned in sky blue and sun gold. It might seem weird, but it sure beats Bakersfield.