The first thing that came to mind was -- actually, check that. That was really more like the third thing.
The first reaction was visceral. "That's a lot of water." The second was a joke about "Chinatown," that maybe if everyone had known all that water was already running through the mains, Jake Gittes wouldn't have lost half a nose. But the third thing that came to mind, seeing the footage of a broken UCLA water main flooding Pauley Pavilion, was: "Not another season at the L.A. Sports Arena."
Every story about the Bruins' flood provided a reminder that Pauley Pavilion received a three-year, $136 million renovation that finished in 2012. Fewer mentioned that in 2011-12, as the arena was finished, UCLA basketball had to spend an entire season playing at the old L.A. Sports Arena, a municipal building that has been only sporadically updated since its groundbreaking in 1958. The idea of UCLA -- a program that has to work to lure fans into a brand-new arena, let alone a dying one -- spending another season at the Sports Arena was a fate worse than any damaged hardwood.
Fortunately, it won't come to that. Crews have already finished repairing the water main in question, and UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero has insisted he's not even considering playing anywhere but Pauley next season. So good news.
Which brings us to the fourth thing: When was the last time an arena flooded, anyway? Here are five other college hoops facilities problems of recent vintage. One of them even got its own documentary.
Texas vs. UCLA, 2011. Let's start with the Sports Arena itself! It was still early in the 2011-12 season when the Bruins got their first taste of life between renovations: On Dec. 3, with 3:59 to play in the first half, Texas forward Alex Wangmene was mid-free throw when the power in the arena suddenly disappeared. It took several minutes for the overhead lights to return; the arena announcer blamed a power surge for the problem. Then UCLA's band played "All of the Lights." It's a song good enough (and so brass-heavy in its original composition) that it hardly needs such an elaborate introduction. I wish I could find a video, but I'm not sure anyone except the band was actually there.
Bud Walton Arena, 2013. Last September, heavy fall rains caused Arkansas' home gym, Bud Walton Arena, to flood overnight. Letting rain infiltrate your huge campus building is probably indictment enough, but the flood highlighted Arkansas's long-term status as the only school in the SEC without a viable basketball practice facility. As Arkansas Fight! wrote at the time: "... Bud Walton was flooded but it wasn't a big deal because the team was comfortably playing in the program's state-of-the-art practice facility preparing for the season that starts in a couple of weeks and the team was practicing at UA's HPER Building, the student recreational center. ... Pretty soon, we won't even be able to point and laugh at the Tad Pad to make ourselves feel better." In November, Arkansas found the money for a practice facility. In December, it broke ground. That's a happy ending, right?
Britney Spears in Lubbock, 2002. This might be my favorite: In 2002, at the height of her fame, Texas Tech's United Spirit Arena (now United Supermarkets Arena) hosted none other than Britney Spears. But after her second song, "(You Drive Me) Crazy" (a classic tune), the arena power went out. Spears and her promoter went onstage to explain that the show was canceled. Tickets were refunded, but the date was never rescheduled. Her fans were, shall we say, unhappy. "A ticket refund will not compensate us for all the money we spent on plane tickets, a hotel room and other numerous expenses," Cody Bradstreet told the Daily Toreador. "I will never buy another ticket, CD or anything related to Britney Spears. In fact, I will never buy another Pepsi."
Hurricane Sandy at Hofstra, 2012. In 2012, Hofstra had one of the rougher preseasons in college hoops memory. First, its arena was blocked off for two weeks in preparation for the second presidential debate. Two weeks later, Hurricane Sandy came roaring through Long Island and the surrounding area. Hofstra coach Mo Cassara rode out the storm at his office, which became a makeshift dog kennel and storm bunker. Thanks to an electrical short, the arena horn went off for 30 straight minutes. That is my nightmare.
The 2008 SEC tournament. It's the granddaddy of all recent power-and-weather-related arena issues. ESPN's Mark Schlabach and Andy Katz were there. These are the first two paragraphs of their story:
ATLANTA -- A severe storm ripped a hole in the roof of the Georgia Dome during the Southeastern Conference tournament Friday, delaying Mississippi State's 69-67 overtime win over Alabama for more than an hour and postponing a game between Georgia and Kentucky. As Mississippi State led 64-61 with 2:11 left in overtime, a loud blast was heard inside the dome. The girders near the dome's roof began to swing, and a gaping section of the north part of the roof was ripped open, dropping debris that included nuts and bolts.
On the occasion of ESPN's documentary "Miracle 3," SBNation's Spencer Hall revisited his memories of the event -- players stopping at midcourt to listen to the storm, the "oddly tranquil" sight of the Atlanta skyline through the Georgia World Congress Center's walls. "It was terrifying, humid, a bit evil, and more thrilling than I really still want to admit," Hall wrote. "What I remember was everything -- sports being the least of those things -- disappearing, and in a few seconds being replaced by genuine undistilled chaos." That just about sums it up.