Upgraded Galen Center aims to wow fans on and off the court
The arena improvements are part of USC’s grand vision for its athletics facilities.
With both the USC men’s and women’s basketball seasons in full swing, a renewed sense of excitement can be felt throughout Galen Center. Top recruits, celebrity sightings and strong performances have Trojan basketball in spotlight again. Fans looking to get in on the hype this season will notice some new upgrades off the court as well.
As part of USC President Carol Folt’s strategic vision for USC athletic facilities, Galen Center received a face-lift in the offseason to enhance the game day experience of students, fans, donors and student-athletes.
“When I announced the athletics ‘moonshot,’ I wanted to make sure that every single one of our teams — our women’s teams and our men’s teams — were able to compete at the level that they wanted to compete,” Folt said. “We wanted to create venues that would support them, give them the place to play and to practice, and for our crowds to come and appreciate all that they bring.”
Folt’s athletics moonshot aims to empower student-athletes to compete at the highest level athletically and academically.
“Galen Center was a big deal for our athletic department because it allowed our teams to practice where they were competing and truly have a home on campus,” said Paul Neidermire, general manager of the 17-year-old facility. “When the Galen Center opened, it was fabulous. It still is. However, it was feeling a little dated.”
Both Neidermire and Jeff Fucci, USC senior associate athletic director, gave credit to Folt for having the vision to refresh the Galen Center for all the student-athletes, visitors, staff and others who play, practice and attend games and events there. They also credited her personal attention to the many updates found throughout the center. Fucci said that Folt saw a great opportunity to uplift the space to be more “commensurate with the success of the program.”
Galen Center upgrades: Photogenic entrance and new facilties
One highlight of the Galen Center upgrades greets fans as soon as they walk through the doors. What was once a lobby with a few trophy cases and faded colors now features two 30-foot LED boards from floor to ceiling that can be customized for each of the sports played there: men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball.
“When you walked in, it looked very off the mid-2000s, and now it’s almost unrecognizable,” Fucci said. “The LED boards are completely customizable, so the sky’s the limit in terms of the creativity in that space.”
The space adjacent to the Hall of Champions — where there was once a team bookstore for Trojan merchandise — now houses the 3400 Lounge, a premium hospitality space for Galen Center guests.
“The 3400 Lounge is a really neat space that gives us the opportunity to host our guests in a way that we were never able to before at the Galen Center,” Neidermire said. “It’s a more intimate space with very premium offerings.”
The Galen Center Founders Club along the north entrance was also revamped with brand-new flooring, seats and TVs. The 8,000-square-foot hall features a patio with new furniture, bistro lighting and fire pits.
“We were able to really just bring that space to life in a different way than we ever have,” Neidermire said. “The fire pits, the bistro lighting — it all brings that ambience of an indoor-outdoor atmosphere that is very appealing as you come to a basketball game.”
With new lighting along the concourse and updated graphics and signage, Fucci said Galen Center has a restored energy that can be felt no matter where fans are. Sporting 30-foot LED boards and large-scale illuminated “Fight On!” signage, the main entrances of Galen Center were redesigned much like those of a music festival — a space for social media-ready photo opportunities and fan engagement, Fucci said.
“We kept hearing that no one has a lasting memory of Galen Center after visiting, and that once they leave there’s no key touchpoint or a great memorable experience that you talk about other than the game,” Fucci said. “We wanted it to be somewhere where kids are running up to the displays and asking mom or dad to take a picture — just creating an engaging and memorable experience.”
Honoring Trojan legends, improving the courtside experience
The four sports that call Galen Center home have earned a combined 14 national championships and numerous conference championships and NCAA tournament appearances, all of which are highlighted with 33 new banners displayed around the scoreboard above center court.
“You’ll see national championship banners, you’ll see the honored numbers from our former student-athletes as well as tournament appearances — Sweet 16s, Elite Eights, Final Fours,” Neidermire said. “There’s also a large fabric frame that’s backlit that acknowledges the 135 national championships that USC Athletics has in totality.”
Fucci said the banners not only honor some of the best seasons in Trojan history, but also add a crucial spark to the arena.
“We previously only had nine banners hanging, so now it’s a completely new look to the arena: a much more vibrant and colorful look,” Fucci said.
The new banners highlighting legendary Trojan teams of the past were unveiled earlier this season during the women’s basketball game against Florida Gulf Coast University. USC honored the 1982-84 Women of Troy, who won back-to-back national titles with stars Cynthia Cooper, Cheryl Miller and twins Paula and Pamela McGee. Miller and the McGee twins were in attendance for the event.
The new banners for this season are just one of the upgrades inside the arena. An illuminated “Fight On!” sign now hangs where there used to be a plain white soundboard hidden in the rafters. Fans lucky enough to sit courtside will enjoy brand-new chairs, as well as more opportunities to sit courtside with extra rows installed.
“It brings a sense of pride when you come to work, and it really just shows the excitement that is around all of the programs that compete at the Galen Center and within USC Athletics,” Neidermire said.
Galen Center upgrades: A space for current and future Trojans
Some of the biggest enhancements to the arena were designed for USC student-athletes, including a revamped tunnel that allows Trojan athletes to walk from the locker room to the court and an Instagram-worthy entryway. The Galen Center’s main daily entry used by all student-athletes and staff received a major branding overhaul.
“Photo shoots have become such a big part of the recruiting process,” said Fucci, who mentioned that the Galen Center upgrades have been a game-changer for recruiting activity. “We want our visiting recruits to envision what it would be like to be a USC student-athlete.”
The general student body was also considered: The student entrance on the south side of the arena now features updated colors and large-scale posters and banners featuring images of the Trojan student section through the years.
More upgrades are planned as USC transitions into the Big Ten Conference later this year. Fucci and Neidermire hope that the excitement generated from the Galen Center enhancements can serve as a springboard into a new era for the men and women of Troy.
“The entire athletic department recognizes how great Galen Center can look with this refresh, and people are already asking about the next phase,” Fucci said. “We’ve got great facilities at USC, incredible student-athletes, and compete in the top sports media market, but we have to keep pushing forward, and we can aspire for even more than what we have today. We are excited for what will come next at Galen Center.”
Upcoming at Galen Center
USC vs. Arizona: Monday, Feb. 12, 6 p.m.
USC vs. Colorado: Friday, Feb. 23, 7 p.m.
USC vs. Utah: Sunday, Feb. 25, noon.
USC vs. Utah: Thursday, Feb. 15, 8 p.m.
USC vs. Colorado: Saturday, Feb. 17, 7 p.m.
USC vs. Arizona: Saturday, March 9, 7 p.m.
USC vs. Concordia Irvine: Friday, Feb. 16, 6 p.m.
USC vs. UCLA: Thursday, Feb. 29, 7 p.m.
Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge: USC vs. Penn State on Wednesday, March 6, 7 p.m.; UCLA vs. Penn State on Friday, March 8, 4 p.m.; USC vs. Ohio State on Friday, March 8, 7 p.m.
USC alumni match: Saturday, March 23, 2 p.m.
USC vs. Pepperdine: Saturday, March 30, 7 p.m.
USC vs. Brigham Young: Friday, April 5, 7 p.m.; Saturday, April 6, 7 p.m.
MPSF tournament: April 17, 18 and 20 (times TBD)
Get ticket information on the USC Trojans website.