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AMASA — Since 2006, Connor Sports has been the official court supplier of the NCAA Division I Men and Women’s Final Four Tournament. Eleven new, custom built, portable floors are in the process of being made at the Amasa facility.
“We’re making flooring from rough lumber that we bring in from a various number of saw mills from the U.P. We’re making flooring into strips then we’re panelizing those into what you would see as a portable floor panel or portable floor court, used for the tournaments,” says Jason Gasperich, Technical Director for Connor Sports.
But it isn’t such a simple process, lumber for the court was harvested all the way back in September and left to dry for months to reach 6 to 9% wood moisture. The wood pieces are then cut down to the same width and thickness. The wood is inspected for the best quality possible any imperfections are cut out. The wood is then milled to be smooth and to include the grooves on the side of each piece that allow for quick assembly. Those pieces are then put together to form a panel. Each panel is trimmed and cut to uniform sizes and prepared to move on to another facility for final touches such as sanding, painting, and finishing.
“There’s a lot of man hours that go into it. There’s a lot of people that touch that court from the time the tree is cut down all the way until it’s installed in the facility,” adds Gasperich.
Plus, with more than 125 employees hands-on in this process, this time of year, is especially exciting at Connor Sports.
Gasperich explains, “There’s a sense of pride that is very evident around the property. It’s a rare opportunity where people that are working day in and day out on a job that’s pretty tough work, and see what they’re actually building everyday, and see it on national television.”
Be sure to keep an eye out for the completed courts at this year’s NCAA Final Four Men and Women’s tournament.
——————–See Connor Sports’ full press release below——————–
AMASA, Mich. (March 18, 2019) – As the excitement of NCAA® March Madness® tips off this week, Connor® Sports, a Gerflor company, will again provide the Official Courts for the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships culminating in the Final Four.®
The Official Court Supplier of the NCAA Final Four® since 2006, Connor Sports will provide the new, custom courts for the 2019 Men’s Final Four® to be played April 6 and April 8 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, and for the Women’s Final Four® on April 5 and April 7 at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla. In addition to the Men’s and Women’s Final Four, Connor Sports will provide new courts for the men’s and women’s regional games and for the showcase courts at the Men’s Final Four Fan Fest Presented by Capital One®.
“Connor Sports will again play a critical role in the 2019 March Madness®, and we view our Champion of Customer role for the NCAA very importantly,” said Doug Grove, Connor Sports. “The manufacturing and finishing process of 11 new high-quality, custom hardwood basketball courts and the complex, just-in-time logistics of delivering and installing a total of 20 courts across the nation for the NCAA is a challenge that we at Connor Sports welcome and strive to execute to the highest standards.”
Connor Sports manufactures the 11 new, custom-built QuickLock® portable floors annually for installation at both the Men’s and Women’s regionals and Final Four tournament venues each year as well as the fan event courts. Additionally, the NCAA uses nine courts from Connor Sports that are maintained to the highest standards and installed by Connor for the First Four® and the first and second rounds of men’s tournament play annually.
The 2019 Men’s Final Four court is made from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified first-grade Northern Hard Maple and is 70’ X 140’ and totals 9,800 square feet using 397 4’ x 7’ panels weighing approximately 188 pounds each, or more than 37 tons, in total. The Women’s Final Four surface is also FSC-certified and measures 60’ x 120’ at 7,200 square feet with 262 4’ x 7’ panels at more than 24 tons in total.
The courts were manufactured and inspected at the Connor Sports mill in the small town of Amasa, Michigan (population 200) in the fall of 2018. The floor panels were stacked and banded in January of 2019 and then shipped to Connor’s valued finishing partners for assembly, sanding, sealing, and painting before being loaded and finally will be delivered to each regional or Final Four venue or fan event location. Each court takes approximately four hours to install led by Connor Sports Technical Supervisors and a team of 10-12 local workers.
Installation for the Men’s Final Four court at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis will take place beginning at 8 a.m. on Friday, March 29 and an open media session will be held mid-morning. The installation for the Women’s Final Four in Tampa will take place in the early morning at Amalie Arena on March 31 and an open session for media to view the court will be held following.
In addition to the tournament courts, Gerflor’s Sport Court® brand will provide all Maple Select™ and Response HG™ modular sports surfaces used by NCAA Corporate Champions and Partners at the official Men’s and Women’s Final Four fan events to engage fans in a variety of basketball-themed skills and activities.
Connor Sports Environmental Responsibility
•In 2009 an independent environmental engineering firm audited and designated Connor Sports a “Zero Waste Company.”
•As a member of the Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association (MFMA), Connor adheres to the strict grading and quality standards of that organization.
•Maple hardwood used in the courts is from a renewable resource, with the U.S. growing six times more hardwood than is harvested each year.
•Connor recycles 100% of its waste material and offers wood that is Forest Stewardship Council-certified. The FSC mark represents products from well-managed forests.
•Connor was the first MFMA member to be certified by the Rainforest Alliance and is the only independently certified Zero Waste sports flooring manufacturer.
ABOUT CONNOR SPORTS
Founded in 1872, Connor® Sports is the leader in hardwood sports flooring and is a preferred provider to the NCAA, NBA, FIBA and other global sports organizations. Connor Sports is a part of the Gerflor® company. Gerflor’s cutting-edge technology, history of innovation and design-forward products as an international leader in the flooring industry provides Connor Sports with global scope and enhanced research and technology. The Gerflor portfolio also includes Sport Court® and Taraflex® brands. Connor Sports has a proven commitment to sustainability with an excellent environmental record in responsible forestry including use of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified materials. The company’s manufacturing facility in Amasa, MI is independently-audited and compliant with ISO 14001 standards. Connor Sports products also include leading permanent hardwood sports flooring systems and premium vulcanized rubber sports surfaces. Connor Sports is on the web at www.connorsports.com, Facebook at www.facebook.com/connorsports, LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/company/connor-sports and on Twitter @Connor_Sports.
ABOUT THE NCAA The NCAA is a diverse association of more than 1,100 member colleges and universities that prioritize academics, well-being and fairness to create greater opportunities for nearly half a million student-athletes each year. The NCAA provides a pathway to higher education and beyond for student-athletes pursuing academic goals and competing in NCAA sports. More than 54,000 student-athletes experience the pinnacle of intercollegiate athletics by competing in NCAA championships each year. Visit ncaa.org and ncaa.com for more details about the Association and the corporate partnerships that support the NCAA and its student-athletes.