Guest Column - May/June 2005
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Vital to Be Versatile

Increased demand leads to need for multipurpose sports flooring

By Robin Traum

If you're part of an athletics, physical education, fitness or recreation department, there's a good chance you are affiliated with a facility being constructed or renovated during the course of this year. According to the 2005 Outlook for U.S. Construction Activity, presented by McGraw-Hill Construction, there will be an increase in educational building and continued building of other institutional facilities in 2005.

Educational institutions from elementary schools through colleges and universities will benefit from a projected 3-percent increase in construction growth. According to the Construction Outlook, 2005 will bring significant renovation of educational institutions. Rising student enrollment necessitates much of the construction. The actual educational building is enabled by improved fiscal health of some states and voter-approved bond issues. Other institutional structures like religious facilities, public buildings, and amusement and rec buildings, which can include parks and rec centers, may not see equivalent growth but will count new square footage in the millions.

At least one similarity appears within this broad range of facilities: About 70 percent are expected to have multipurpose space. It's space that is not dedicated to a single use because it can't be—the demand for it is too great. While it may be called the school gym, community center or fellowship hall, in reality it has many uses, applications and patrons. Which means this versatile space needs an appropriate multiuse floor.

So it's time to be honest. As the administrator, athletic director or program coordinator at your facility, you've been designated to help with the selection of the new floor. You jump at the chance to get the sports surface you've always dreamed of having for your players or students. But it is not going to be that easy. Realize there is something about flooring we all take for granted that really demonstrates its importance: The floor is the most heavily used part of any building. Think about that for a while and then begin considering who else and what other programs will use the floor initially and in the future.

Now, you have acknowledged the floor in your facility will not be used 100 percent of the time for sports but for a multitude of functions from concerts and tournaments to meetings and banquets. The attendees also will differ greatly from young to old with varying movements from running and jumping to walking and standing.

Your challenge is to find out what is critical for their needs and address them as completely as possible in the selection of flooring. You want to leverage the use of the space efficiently so it can host all of the interested groups appropriately. You have to figure out how to select the right floor and focusing on a multipurpose sports floor is the best way to start in the right category. A multipurpose sports floor can give you versatility, durability, performance, safety and comfort.