Supplement Feature - September 2009
Find a printable version here

Floor It!

Finding the Right Sports Flooring

By Richard Zowie

NKU's previous arena of more than 30 years, Regents Hall, also had a maple hardwood surface. Scott Eaton, NKU's associate athletic director, said they wanted another hardwood floor and gave no consideration to other types of surfaces, although sometimes the team practices on synthetic surfaces.

"Our past experiences and the quality of student athletes we have are the reasons we chose to remain on a hardwood surface," Eaton said.

While the Norse remain on hardwood, they have a different type of maple surface. The old surface came in 8-foot-by-4-foot pieces. This new surface, however, is portable and can be taken apart and reassembled. This is handy for the university since the new arena, unlike the prior one, now has the flexibility to be multipurpose.

"Portability is the biggest advantage since the arena's used for other things besides basketball," Eaton explained.

Maintenance is as simple as mopping, and this surface, Eaton estimated, could last 20 years.

So far, the basketball players like the results. "It has a good give to it, and they're very happy with the feel," Eaton said. "They say it doesn't have a hardwood feel. There's a good protective mat under it."

Besides being traditional, many like hardwood surfaces because they fit nicely into the ever-growing green trend in America. According to the Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association, America grows six times more hardwood than what it harvests annually. Each day, the forest industry plants more than 1.5 billion more trees. One of the appeals of using hardwood surfaces is the fact that it comes from a renewable, biodegradable resource.

What a Racquet!

In 2008, after a four-year layoff, Stanford University reopened its four racquetball courts at the Arrillaga Family Racquetball Center with new maple floors to replace the old, two-inch maple boards the previous racquetball floors had.

"[Maple] is an industry standard and it’s the best quality flooring you can put into a racquetball court," said Cardinal deputy athletic director Ray Purpur.

This new maple flooring features a one-inch-thick tongue that fits into the groove of the two-inch-wide floor. It doesn’t crack, and it’s stable.

Purpur said they like the maple floor because of its durability, its ease of maintenance and how it can be kept clean. "You can screen it down (a light sanding) on annual basis," he said. "We repaint and put on a new finish, so it’s easy to maintain."

The racquetball courts are used for open campus recreation for faculty, staff and students. There’s also a racquetball team that uses it. The courts are also used for wallyball (a variation of volleyball where the ball that caroms off a wall remains in play). Purpur added most of the money donated for the racquetball courts came from John Arrillaga, for whom the courts are named.