Last week, a transport trailer arrived on campus carrying Algoma University’s newest hardwood playing surface for the Algoma Thunderbirds basketball teams.
The new floor was built specifically for this past February’s 65th NBA All-Star basketball game hosted by the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre, and saw the likes of LeBron James (Cavaliers), Paul George (Pacers), Carmelo Anthony (Knicks), Kyle Lowry (Raptors), Kobe Bryant (Lakers), Kevin Durant (Thunder), Kawhi Leonard (Spurs), among others, take to the court.
“We are very pleased and excited to be home to this prestigious basketball court,” said Athletics and Recreation Director, Mark Kontulainen. “Since we are competing in the premier athletics conference in Canada, it is important that our student-athletes are equipped with the best equipment and training facilities. We’re hoping our student-athletes will channel some of the power of the All-Stars who played on this court in February and will deliver some impressive results,” he adds with a laugh.
The portable floor, which is 29 metres by 15 metres, and is outfitted with the Algoma University Thunderbird at centre court, OUA, CIS, and City of Sault Ste. Marie logos, as well as the official team name of the Thunderbirds, was made by Horner Sports Flooring in Dollar Bay on the Keweenaw Peninsula near Marquette, Michigan. Often, a large portion of the maple wood used is harvested from the Algoma region and processed at Boniferro Mill Works. Horner Sports Flooring is the longest standing manufacturer of hard wood maple flooring in the world.
The new hardwood is a drastic improvement from the over 30-year-old court the Thunderbirds had been playing on. The new NBA court features the latest technology and a better locking system to prevent pieces from separating mid-play. The court is also lighter and lower to the ground.
The acquisition of the new NBA All-Star court was made possible with support from Tourism Sault Ste. Marie. The organization has a longstanding partnership with Algoma University. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie owned the previous basketball court, which it used to attract events to the community, including the 2011 OCAA Men’s Basketball Championships, the Harlem Globetrotters and several provincial high school basketball championships. The new court will be used to attract future events to Sault Ste. Marie.
“Algoma U will continue to work closely with Tourism Sault Ste. Marie. We have worked together to bring large-scale sporting events to Sault Ste. Marie, including basketball-related events. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie will have access to our new portable court whenever hosting a basketball event in the City of Sault Ste. Marie,” said Tom Mauro, Director of Student and Ancillary Services at the University.
The Algoma Thunderbirds fourth season in the OUA begins this November 5th with the Thunderbirds travelling to Thunder Bay, Ontario for an early OUA North division battle against the Thunderwolves. The home openers will be played on November 18th against the Carleton Ravens at 6:00pm (women) and 8:00pm (men).