Buckeyes Preparing to Unveil New Court on Saturday
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — While the Schottenstein Center will never replace St. John Arena in the hearts of Ohio State basketball purists, the team’s new basketball court will have a familiar feel.
Those looking for a scarlet imprint of the Buckeye State, a classic logo which marked the floor at Ohio State’s historic St. John Arena, will find themselves a little disappointed on Saturday, but the new floor at The Schott will include a recognizable logo at center court.
“Coach (Thad) Matta was really adamant that he wanted that on there,” said Mike Damas, the building engineer at Ohio State’s 19,000-seat basketball arena on the corner of Lane Avenue and Olentangy River Road.
“The state of Ohio in the background is a great look for it.”
New Floor in the Value City Arena
Ohio State’s 74-66 loss to No. 9 Kansas will be the last game ever played on the old hardwood court at Value City Arena. It was only the second in the history of an arena that broke ground in 1996 and opened to the public as the home of the Buckeyes in 1998.
The court was in its seventh season of use by both the men’s and women’s basketball teams at Ohio State, and it was starting show its age.
“On average, we move that court over 50 times a year taking it in and out for different events,” Damas said.
“It was starting to get more dead spots and the repairs were starting to get more expensive than replacing the court altogether.”
Replacing the existing court was something the university had been thinking about for a while. There were talks after last season about replacing it during the offseason, but finding the right design, and the right deal, took a little longer than originally planned.
The new court's design was chosen from 12 samples that were drawn up by Ohio State's Creative Services. The university made the final decision, but only after taking a tremendous amount of input from both Matta, now in his ninth year as the men’s basketball coach, and Jim Foster, the head coach of Ohio State’s women’s basketball team since 2002.
“I'm not sure if the coaches and players noticed it, but we could see it,” Damas said of the need for a new court.
“Where it would take us a day or two in the past, it was now taking a couple of weeks to repair. We re-finished it twice.”
The cost of a new court was just under $85,000, but the Buckeyes expect to get another 6-7 years out of this one before they have to make another change. One of the primary features of this new court, made out of standard maple, is that it will be a stiffer, stronger wood.
In order to make the change, it had to be not only one of the better surfaces in college basketball, but also a court that could match the quality of the courts being used by most NBA teams at the next level.
“The new technology that's out there on it, the look, there's a lot that goes into it,” Damas explained.
“One of the requirements for the court was there had to be so many of these courts in NBA facilities, as well as NCAA Division-I schools, so qualifying for this bid was very tight. It is an NBA-quality court.”
This new court will be unveiled for the first time on Saturday when Ohio State hosts Chicago State (4:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network). It will be the final non-conference game of the season for the Buckeyes, but Matta was not against the idea of changing out the court midseason.
Ohio State will host Nebraska on January 2nd in the Big Ten opener, followed by home contests against Michigan, Iowa and Wisconsin in the month of January.
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