Duke fans will soon be able to purchase sections of the floor on which the Blue Devils won this year’s NCAA tournament title.
The university is in the final stages of talks to purchase the 140- by 70-foot (42 by 21 meters) maple floor used last weekend in Indianapolis, according to Andrew Campbell, portable project manager at Connor Sports Flooring. It’s undetermined whether the university will buy it outright or with the help of a third party, and the price -- more than the roughly $100,000 paid by previous winners -- is still being negotiated.
“It’s niche keepsake,” Campbell said. “There’s a lot of cool things you can do with it.”
Louisville, for example, purchased its 2013 championship floor in a partnership with Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., according to athletics spokesman Kenny Klein. The center-court logo hangs in the KFC Yum! Center, while the rest was sold off to fans, raising more than $250,000 for pediatric cancer research.
The official court provider for the men’s and women’s National Collegiate Athletic Association tournaments, Connor Sports gives every national champion the option of buying its Final Four court. Duke will break it down and sell pieces as collectibles for fans, according to Campbell.
Duke athletics spokesman Art Chase didn’t return an e-mail or voice message seeking comment.
The 2015 Final Four court, used for the men’s semifinals and finals at Lucas Oil Stadium, incorporated recycled content and wood from environmentally friendly forests in Northern Michigan, which made it more expensive. It also had a bigger out-of-bounds area to accommodate the National Football League stadium; most standard basketball courts are 112- by 60-feet or 120- by 60-feet.
“It’s a huge floor, there’s a lot of custom panels on the outside,” Campbell said. “It had a unique building experience, which also means some additional costs.”
The floor was broken down into four-by-seven-foot panels early Tuesday morning, hours after Duke beat Wisconsin 68-63. It will be held in Chattanooga, Tennessee, until the next steps are decided.
Since Connor Sports began offering the court to the winner in 2006, the University of Connecticut is the only school to pass on the offer. The Huskies sold pieces of their 1999 title court, and declined to buy it in 2011 and 2014.
UConn has also won five women’s tournament titles in that time. The school’s Gampel Pavilion has a permanent court, so replacing that with a portable floor wasn’t an option.
“The reasons we’ve passed is that we don’t really have a need for it,” UConn athletics spokesman Mike Enright said.
After Florida won in 2006, trucks carrying the wood panels to a warehouse were rerouted to Gainesville, where the court was reinstalled in the Gators’ home arena. When the Gators won again in 2007, they purchased the court and broke it into four pieces, each hanging on the wall of their practice facility with a logo of the school’s first four semifinals appearances.
Non-title courts get sold in a secondary market of sorts, depending on demand. While the roughly $90,000 price tag for previous regional courts is a discount -- an equivalent new court could cost about $100,000 or more -- the reused surfaces may not last as long.
A court can only be sanded four to seven times in its lifetime and these have already been through that process twice, to put the tournament graphics on, and again to take them off.
“There is some value loss there, which is balanced out by what the floor was used for,” Campbell said. “We don’t try to take advantage of that, we never have. It’s something exciting for them and we want to share in that excitement.”