When fans arrive at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena to watch the women’s NCAA Tournament games on Saturday, they’ll see a glossy new court made specifically for the Spokane Regional.
Each year, all of the men’s NCAA Tournament sites, the women’s regional and Final Four sites feature portable hardwood courts manufactured by Connor Sports, based in Amasa, Michigan.
The Arena floor has a color scheme of purple coupled with blue on the court’s edges.
It arrived Friday. Workers inspected the pallets of flooring Saturday and put the court together in a couple of hours on Monday.
After the regional concludes, a crew will take the court apart and ready it to be shipped back to Connor, which sells the courts or refurbishes them for the following year, said Andrew Campbell, Connor’s director of partnerships and events.
Seven Arena employees and six to eight temporary hires assemble and take down the courts, said Spokane Arena general manager Matt Gibson. They’ve become adept at doing so, too, since this is the 11th NCAA event the Arena has featured dating back to the first in 2001.
The Arena has two of its own courts used for special events like the GSL spirit doubleheaders, the occasional Harlem Globetrotters visit, a frequent game featuring the Washington State University men’s team and the State B high school tournaments in early March when two courts are used. This year, the Washington high school District 8 4A and 3A tournaments were played at the Arena.
The Arena has owned its courts since the doors opened in 1995.
The courts were overdue for a face-lift and were recently hauled to the manufacturer, Horner Flooring in Dollar Bay, Michigan.
“They’re going to be rebuilt, sanded and refinished,” Gibson said.
Gibson said a new court costs about $250,000. It will cost $90,000 each to refurbish the courts, he said.
“It was just time,” Gibson said. “When you take the floors out multiple times like we do, it takes its toll. They get banged up and beat around, the wood shrinks and expands.”
The courts had a green and purple color scheme.
“We’re going to get a whole new design and color scheme with a different type of varnish,” Gibson said. “It’ll be a little more classic, more neutral.”
Gibson said the Arena crew follows a precise pattern in setting up a court for an NCAA event. The court is centered between sections 104 and 116, he said. Once the center point is determined, it’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, he said.
“We figure out where the most center point is and everything radiates out from there,” Gibson said. “Then we have a couple people running around making sure the measurements are correct.”
Gibson said a representative from Connor Sports helps with the install.
“The NCAA leaves nothing to chance,” Gibson said. “We feel a little better when there’s some oversight.”
Gibson said the Arena was ready to hold the games by Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s sort of boring around here right now,” he said.
This weekend marks the sixth NCAA women’s regional.
“We know what we’re doing,” Gibson said. “There are a few things here and there the (NCAA) committee changes on you from year to year.”
Gibson has worked at the Arena for each NCAA event.
The Arena will be the site for second- and third-round men’s games in 2020.
Gibson plans to bid on future NCAA events.
“As long as I’m the general manager here, we’ll always do our best to bid out the tournaments,” Gibson said. “It’s a chance for us to shine and show off Spokane. The publicity and the impact that comes back home is immeasurable. I’d love to get to a point where we’re doing one every year, but of course there are lots of different markets that have realized how special this is.”
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