Arena Evaluation: Cal
SIOC's got the scoop on Haas Pavilion
Posted: Friday February 2, 2007 5:06PM; Updated: Friday February 2, 2007 5:06PM
On game night, as you pass the scalpers on the street corners and cars frantically searching for that rare parking spot, you'll come upon Haas Pavilion, the home of Cal athletics. You'll hear the sound of the Straw Hat band long before you enter the doors of the arena, and if it's a big game, especially one against the hated (and drunken) Tree (i.e. Stanford), you'll feel the anticipation heavy in the air as the stands fill with almost nothing but blue and gold. For a university that is not often known for its athletic facilities, Haas Pavilion is an impressive sight and experience.
Prior to 1997, the Golden Bears played at the charming (but woefully outdated) Harmon Gym, which was renovated and renamed Haas Pavilion in 1999. The revamped arena, a state-of-the-arts facility that houses 11,877, is basically a larger, improved, more modern version of old Harmon. One positive about Haas Pavilion is that there is hardly a bad seat in the house -- the rows incline at a steep angle so that even at the upper levels, spectators look down on the court instead of being completely removed from it (the last row is only 88 feet from the floor). There are 2,600 student section seats -- 900 of which are courtside. The arena also features two high-resolution video boards at each end, 2,000 seats with seatbacks, and most important of all, clean bathrooms. It may just be the nicest facility on campus.
While some may the arena hasn't reached the volume level it once regularly maintained during the Jason Kidd days, I have experienced the deafening sensation that is characteristic of a student section at any big-time school. With last year's NCAA team -- led by Leon Powe -- is a thing of the past, the volume has noticeably undergone a reduction. However, during recent games against Pac-10 rivals UCLA and USC, the crowd elevated its noise to an ear-popping level even with Cal down by double-digits. Of course, the volume depends on the opponent -- Bears fans were shamefully quiet during the team's contest against Washington earlier this season. The potential is there, but its consistency needs improvement.
The Bench, which numbers about 900 students courtside and another 1,000 behind one baseline, is not the biggest or loudest of student sections. The mic-men that lead The Bench frequently fail at maximizing its volume unless the game is either against a hated opponent or down to the last three minutes. I suppose the Bench should be given credit for standing and making noise throughout the entire game, but the same cannot be said about the extended student section behind the baseline. Last year, while I was standing in the first row during the first half of a close Cal-USC game, a not-so-basketball-savvy fan had the nerve to tell me to sit down or go to the back, despite my friend's protests that "This is a basketball game... and this is the student section!" Hence, this low score.
There is nothing particularly worthy to note about the Cal fan's attire during games at Haas Pavilion. Students typically sport "The Bench" shirts that are given away when season tickets are purchased. The occasional fan will have a Cal sticker on his or her face and blue and gold beads hanging around the neck. It is only students in the rally committee who go so far as to paint on their shirtless bodies the letters that spell out "California" or "Go Bears." The arena is still, however, filled with almost nothing but blue and gold, and anyone donning a red article of clothing can be sure to elicit angry chants of "Take off that red shirt!" and the like.
Cal fans are, in general, pretty vocal and obnoxious with their chants. The most notable include the infamous foul chant, during which the crowd shouts, "You, you, you ... On you! You suck!" Towards the end of a game, when a Bears victory is in the refrigerator, the crowd will sing the famous "Hey, hey, goodbye" song. While these may not be groundbreaking, Cal fans will occasionally use their creative abilities to the fullest and come up with something unique to the opponent. Against USC in 2006, some Bears students created a fake AIM screen name and messaged then-sophomore guard Gabe Pruitt, pretending to be a hot girl named Victoria who wanted to meet him after the game. Pruitt apparently agreed to the meeting and even gave out his digits. During the game, the student section harassed him with chants of "Victoria! Victoria!" (He subsequently finished the game with 12 points, off of 3-for-13 shooting). Such a classic chant alone deserves some praise.
Total score: 36