When he walks into Maples Pavilion on game days, women’s volleyball coach John Dunning says, the aroma can be overpowering.
“It’s difficult to practice because the only thing you can smell is four tons of popcorn being cooked,” he says. “You can see smoke in the building sometimes.”
Men’s basketball coach Mike Montgomery is more blunt. Maples, he says, “is like the Dark Ages.”
That’s about to change. Construction is scheduled to begin in March on a nine-month, $30 million renovation of the facility that was built in 1969 for $3.3 million. Financed entirely through donations from alumni and friends of the University, the refurbishing will “benefit both our student-athletes and our fans for years to come,” says athletics director Ted Leland, PhD ’83. “The exciting and intimate atmosphere of Maples Pavilion will continue to make it a great place for college athletics.”
Intimate it will remain: Maples currently seats 7,391 spectators, and the renovation will increase that number by only 300 seats. But what a difference the facelift will mean for fans headed for the restrooms or concession stands. “Currently, you have to go to the floor and stand in a huge cluster of people,” says Dave Schinski, assistant athletic director for capital planning. “You can get caught up in a circulation nightmare inside.”
A new covered concourse will ring the exterior of the expanded pavilion like a snug doughnut, extending about 60 feet from the current walls. There, fans can meet friends, pick up tickets and food, and walk freely, regardless of the weather. “Once you enter and hand in your ticket, you can take off your jacket, put away your umbrella and be comfortable for the rest of the night,” Schinski says.
Changes inside the arena will be striking. The old wooden bleachers will be torn out and replaced with retractable theater-style seating. Two floor-mounted goals will replace the main, top-hung baskets, and an eight-sided Daktronics scoreboard will hang from the ceiling, its four video displays showing instant replays of basketball dunks and volleyball kills. The media will move from the loge to a new “press alley” in the top three rows of the arena, wired to provide instant access to incoming stats.
“The facility will be more technologically oriented, with an ability to bring fiber optics into the building,” Schinski says. “And we’ve hired a consultant to assess the current background noise level, so the public address system will be better.”
Much of the renovation will be invisible, including some 9,000 square feet that will be added underground, with new locker rooms, showers, lounges, coaches’ offices and storage rooms extending beneath the lawn toward Campus Drive. The current locker rooms will be converted to weight training rooms and media work areas.
Because of the renovation, the men’s and women’s basketball teams will have to move their 2004-05 exhibition and nonconference home games to the Leavey Center on the campus of Santa Clara University. “It’s well worth it,” Montgomery says. The renovation “is long overdue, and something we’re really looking forward to.” Women’s head coach Tara VanDerveer concurs. “We’re ecstatic,” she says. “Stanford is a first-class university and it will be fun to have a first-class arena—and it will really help with recruiting.”
Dunning, whose team will play the entire 2004 season in 1,400-seat Burnham Pavilion, is similarly enthusiastic. “When you go around the country and look at the newer arenas, the comforts of home are nicer,” he says. “In terms of having the athletes and the community be proud of the facility, this will be great for our programs.”