For the 2012 NCAA March Madness basketball tournament's Final Four round, 21 portable basketball courts were produced from Grade 1 maple wood by Michigan-based Connor Sports Flooring (www.connorfloor.com).
For each NCAA court, 80 to 90 40-foot tall trees were used, sourced from 235,000 acres of forest in Wisconsin owned by Menominee Tribal Enterprises. The wood courts are made by hand, inspected closely to meet standards that require the planks to be white and free of knots and cracks. Connor plant manager, Conrad Stromberg, says his workforce can detect cracks in the wood planks down to 1/64 of an inch.
"This is hard work," Connor plant manager, Conrad Stromberg, said. "It has become harder and harder to find people who can do this kind of work. Before a person becomes a good checker, it takes them about a year on the job."
The lumber is harvested and dried, then moved to kilns to be treated with steam and heat. Any wood that does not meet the high standards for the basketball courts is sent to a facility that manufactures residential parquet floors or fed into a silo, which powers two underground boilers that produce fire to heat Connor's plant during winter.
After the wood is treated, it is cut by saws to 5/1,000 of an inch so that the floor boards fit together. The planks are then fitted together in 8-by-4-foot panels weighing more than 200 pounds each after the subflooring and locking metal strips are attached. Panels are numbered to make reassembly easier, and the floor is transported via truck to one of four finishing plants Connor uses before the completed court is delivered to the basketball venue.
Once the tournament is complete, the company will offer to sell the basketball court to the winning team for about $90,000. Connor says it will produce more than 700 of these portable basketball courts total in 2012, shipping some as far as China, Turkey and Israel for foreign professional basketball leagues.
To read the full story, please go to http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/mensbasketball/story/2012-03-25/final-four-floor/53812954/1.
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