Hoop Heaven

Harmon Gym to be transformed into larger, better Haas Pavilion.

Venerable Harmon Gym, site of many thrilling Cal victories and countless final examinations, will be transformed over the next few years into a larger, better athletic center.

Plans call for raising the roof and renovating and reconstructing the interior to increase seating capacity to 12,000 and provide centralized office space for the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics & Recreational Sports, now spread over four facilities. There will also be major exterior construction. Estimated cost of the project is $35 million, about half of what a totally new facility might cost.

In recognition of a pledge of $10 million made by the late Walter A. Haas, Jr., '37, and his wife Evelyn, the new facility will be called the Walter A. Haas, Jr., Pavilion.

Chancellor Tien said the new facility would bring many benefits to the campus.

"This is a project that will pay dividends not just for our men's and women's basketball programs, but it should be a tremendous boost for our entire campus," he said. "Providing so much new office and meeting space and a new venue for other campus activities in addition to a great showplace for our nationally ranked basketball teams is a win-win situation for our school."

Men's basketball games at Harmon have been sold out since 1987. About 4,000 alumni and friends have season tickets; another 1,800 are on a waiting list. Student seating is limited to 1,700, out of a student body of about 30,000. Harmon's capacity of 6,578 is the smallest among Pac-10 athletic conference schools.

The additional seating capacity of the new facility will permit many thousands more fans to enjoy Cal basketball, and their attendance will increase ticket revenues. Such revenues permit the University to maintain a broad and excellent athletics program.

Haas Pavilion will also be the site of women's basketball games, volleyball matches, gymnastics meets, and other Bears sports events, including intramural and recreational activities.

The renovation will increase the height of the structure 31-37 feet, extend the east and west exterior walls 14 feet out from the existing walls, and extend the north and south walls by 8 feet and 1 foot, respectively. The design plan includes an 8,000-square-foot VIP room, new concession areas, larger concourses and access points, expanded conference areas, improvements in weight and training areas, and upgrading of seismic safety and disabled access. Seating will include 1,500 chair back seats.

After various preliminary processes, including fundraising, design review, bidding, and permits, are completed, construction is to begin immediately after the 1996-97 basketball season. Completion is scheduled for fall 1998. The Cal basketball teams will play their 1997-98 seasons at another facility, still to be determined.

Architect for the Haas Pavilion project is the firm of Ellerbe Becket, based in Minneapolis. The firm has renovated or expanded such facilities as Rupp Arena, University of Kentucky; Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center, Notre Dame; and Pauley Pavilion, UCLA.

Harmon Gym was constructed in 1933 and was called the Men's Gymnasium until 1959. It was then renamed to honor Oakland financier A. K. P. Harmon, who had made a gift in 1878 estimated at $15,000 to build the original Harmon Gym. That structure, which stood near where Dwinelle Hall is now, burned to the ground in 1932. The Harmon name will continue to be recognized with a display in the new building's foyer.

The new basketball and activities center is part of the $40 million athletics component in the campus's proposed $1 billion capital campaign. Other goals of athletics are renovation of Edwards Track Stadium, to include a new running track and a soccer field, and potential renovations to football facilities.