Even priceless works of art need a little upkeep now and then. In the case of the University of Wisconsins Kohl Center, that came in the form of a brand new basketball court. The original hardwood court, which was installed upon the Kohl Centers opening in January 1998 has now been retired and replaced with a beautiful new playing surface.
The old basketball court has been the stage for many-a-great moment in Wisconsin history. In addition to the countless Badgers mens and womens games and practices, the Kohl Center floor has hosted high school state championships every year along with alumni games and even a Milwaukee Bucks exhibition contest.
With the passing of one floor comes the birth of a new one. Installed Thursday, the handsome new hardwood floor was purchased entirely with a generous donation from Andy and Susan North and will give the Badgers a playing surface as nice as any in the country.
Andy and Sue have always been great friends to the Wisconsin athletic department, Athletic Director Barry Alvarez said. Theyre enthusiastic fans of Badgers basketball and football. Theyve always been very generous and with this gift they have gone above and beyond.
Andy and Susan have long been big supporters of UW athletics and we are extremely grateful for this generous and timely gesture, head basketball coach Bo Ryan added after viewing the new court for the first time.
Like everything in life, timing is everything, Ryan said. This new court was needed, not only for the University of Wisconsin, but also for high school basketball in the state of Wisconsin and for opposing teams that will play at the Kohl Center. This new court will be nothing but first class.
The original Kohl Center floor was built for the 1997 NBA All-Star game in Cleveland. That event was the first of many big-time games staged on the surface. Glen Rice scored 26 points and took home all-star MVP honors that night, narrowly edging Michael Jordan, who recorded the first triple-double in all-star game history that night. Perhaps it was destined to be the home of the Badgers as former UW standout Michael Finley used the court as a springboard to the finals of the Slam Dunk contest that year.
After serving as the surface for the NBA All-Star game, the University of Wisconsin purchased it and had it resurfaced and painted. For 10 seasons the court was put together and torn apart to make way for hockey ice on almost a nightly basis.
The old court lasted longer than we ever expected, senior associate athletic director Vince Sweeney commented. That floor was put down and taken up repeatedly. We certainly feel like we got a lot for our money.
The new Kohl Center floor is not only an upgrade on the playing surface, but should increase the efficiency with which the arena staff can put together and take apart the wood pieces.
Technologically-speaking, this floor is a significant improvement, Sweeney added. It will probably make the transition process easier. Its designed to do what we do here in terms of putting the court down and pulling it up.
Another reason a new floor is needed is the new 3-point line for mens basketball beginning with the 2008-09 season. The 3-point arc is moving back a foot, from 19 feet, 9 inches to 20 feet, 9 inches. Other obvious differences with the new court are that the wood surface is brighter and the motion W at center court is also a bit larger than the old version. You may also notice that a new font was used along each baseline spelling out Wisconsin and Badgers. Other than that, the new paint job is classic and clean looking.
As for what is happening to the old court plans will be announced soon.