UCLA's home-court advantage was already going to be lessened by playing games away from Pauley Pavilion this season, but a decrease in season ticket purchase and the inconvenience to students created by playing games off campus figures to put a dent in fan support at games.
Season ticket sales are down about 25 percent over last season, according to senior athletic department officials, and revenues will be further decreased because of ticket prices that are about 30 percent lower than last year.
"We're down from where we were last year, but we expected to be," Scott Mitchell, UCLA associate athletic director for marketing and business development, said of season ticket sales.
UCLA is playing home games off campus this season because of a $136 million renovation project at Pauley Pavilion that Mitchell called "the biggest project in UCLA athletic department history." The Pauley renovation budget accounts for the anticipated loss in ticket sales revenue, Mitchell said, but that won't help cheer the team during games.
The Bruins are playing 14 home games at the Los Angeles Sports Arena and four at the Honda Center in Anaheim during the Pauley makeover. As a result, season ticket sales are down to about 6,600, according to Mark Harlan, UCLA's senior associate athletic director for external relations, though it's not really an apples-to-apples comparison to last season because of the different packages offered this season.
One package, for instance, might include the four games in Anaheim and the Pac-12 games at the Sports Arena. Another excludes all the Anaheim games.
"We renewed at about 74 or 75 percent," Harlan said. "But we have different Blue and Gold packages that include different games at different venues."
Another concern, of course, is student access to the venues. Students have been able to walk from their dorm rooms to the on-campus Pauley Pavilion, but will now have to fight traffic to get to downtown Los Angeles or Anaheim.
The school is offering free bus rides for students and coach Ben Howland is planning to visit some of the fraternities and sororities in an effort to drum up student support.
If the exhibition game last Sunday is any indication, attendance figures might not be that bad. An announced crowd of 6,259 showed up at Citizens Business Bank arena in Ontario, about 1,500 more than the average attendance at UCLA's two exhibition games last season.
"What we're seeing is more single-game activity," Harlan said. "Also good activity in smaller packages. We had a walk up of about 1,000 in Ontario which is a really good number for college basketball. A really good number."
Peter Yoon covers UCLA for ESPNLosAngeles.com.