Friday, February 11, 2011

Planning for the PAC-10 Tournament

The tournament will be upon us in less than a month! The PAC-10 tournament, always a feast of basketball, offers even more this year with the merger of the men's and women's tournaments. This post covers some of the things you might want to consider in planning to attend.


If you have not already done so, you can purchase tickets at the Stanford sales page.

The Schedule

Click here to review the complete tournament schedule, covering a total of eighteen games in four days.

Now, it is a pretty sure bet that the Cardinal Women will be the #1 seed, and hence will not play until the first semifinal game, 12pm on Friday. (Should they not beat UCLA next week, depending on how the tie-breakers work, they might be the #2 seed and play in the second Friday game.) However there are plenty of other story-lines worth watching: how high can the WSU Cougars get? Can the scrappy new OSU Beavers get a tournament win? Can Cal get into a semifinal? Will Nikki Caldwell's heels punch through the Galen Center's floor?

Also, our tickets include the men's games as well, and the Stanford men might play on Wednesday evening (7th-10th seeds) or if not, certainly on Thursday. We won't know the seeding until the weekend before the tournament.

So there are plenty of reasons to attend preliminary games on Wednesday and Thursday, if your real-life concerns permit.

Getting There

The trip starts with getting from the Bay Area to L.A. in time for the first games on Wednesday afternoon. You may plan to return on Saturday the 12th, either following the Women's final about 2pm, or following the Men's Final around 6pm. Probably the latter: since you have the ticket to men's games, and there is always the chance that Stanford might be in the final, how can you plan not to see it? If you are going to stay until 6pm-ish on Saturday, you might elect to stay over and return Sunday the 13th.

Drive, or fly? The drive time, Palo Alto to USC, is 6 hours via I-5, or 7 hours via 101. That would be with two drivers trading off, and minimal stops. Cost, $125 for gas (round-trip), plus one or two additional motel nights, as you would probably want to travel on the Tuesday and return on the Sunday.

Or you can spend about 5 hours door-to-door by flying SFO-LAX, at a cost of $175 per person (again, round-trip), plus either 4 days' parking or $75 for door-to-door van rides, plus a rental car or taxi rides.

In other words, the costs, times, and inconveniences are pretty even; which you do depends on how you feel about airport security hassles versus driving hassles. If you plan to fly and return on Saturday, however, you had better book that flight ASAP. A lot of people will be trying to leave LAX around 8pm Saturday.

L.A. Without a Car?!?

Since the schedule of basketball games is so full—up to fourteen games in four days, if you really try—you won't have a lot of spare time for driving around to see the sights of the Los Angeles Basin. Suppose you fly; if all you do then is eat, sleep, and watch games, do you really need to rent a car?

Well, actually, no! First, select a hotel within walking distance of the Staples Center. There are numerous hotels in this area; here is a map of them.

Click "View Larger Map." Letter (J) is the Wilshire Grand, where in the past the PAC-10 has housed all the teams.

The Galen Center is a mile or so southwest along Figueroa street. The #81 bus runs every few minutes, as shown on this map.

Again, click on "View Larger Map." Then you can see the Galen Center at letter (A) and Staples Center at letter (B), and the #81 running between them.

Google apparently doesn't know about the new Metro Silver Line, an express bus that also runs between these two places. The Silver Line station for USC is inconveniently placed three blocks away from the door of the Galen Center, underneath the Harbor Freeway on 37th street. But it is an alternative to the #81.

Leave a Comment!

Now you've thought it all through, which days will you go? How will you travel? What games will you attend? Where will you stay? Leave a comment below to say what makes sense to you.

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