The UCLA basketball team will not play a game in Pauley Pavilion until November, 2012, but UCLA students are concerned about where the most rabid fans in the student body will sit when the arena re-opens after a year-long renovation project.
That's the message the students delivered through campus elections this week when, according to UCLA's student newspaper, The Daily Bruin, 69 percent of voters voted to advise the athletic department that the student body is against a plan to move one of the student sections out of the sideline seats it currently occupies and into a unified student section behind one of the baskets.
The election item carries no policy-changing power as it was an advisory poll, but athletic director Dan Guerrero said in a statement last week that if "a return to the previously established student section is the desire, then that is what we will do."
UCLA students have long been allotted a section of sideline seating at Pauley Pavilion, but because there are a limited number of seats available there not all students attending games could fit there. Students often camp out overnight before games to ensure access to those prime seats. Those who didn't get courtside seats were sent to the upper level student section.
Last year, the athletic department surveyed the student fan group -- known as "The Den" -- about proposed changes for basketball games when Pauley Pavilion reopens. According to an e-mail sent in March to members of The Den, 82 percent of the respondents indicated they wanted a unified student section to maximize its impact. The student section was then moved behind one of the baskets, extending upward from the court to the upper level.
But word of the proposed changes spread outside of UCLA's student body and an online protest ensued. Spearheaded by fan blog Bruins Nation and a Facebook page, the protest contended that having a portion of the students on the sideline offered more of a home court advantage than having all of them behind the basket.
The protests got the issue on the student election ballot, and now the administration must decide whether or not to revamp the seating arrangements.
"As an alumnus of UCLA, I have joyous memories of cheering on my fellow student-athletes," Guerrero said in his April 29 statement. "There was nothing else like it. I can guarantee without any reservation that we are all committed to creating the best possible memories and environment for today's team members and their fellow students."