ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Stashed in the corner of a UCF senior associate athletic director's office are the very early samples of a project that nearly never came to fruition.
Monday was an exciting day for the men's and women's basketball programs and the rest of UCF Athletics, who unveiled the product of a seven-month long undertaking: a state-of-the-art "blacktop" court for CFE Arena.
"The court is part of our branding," UCF men's basketball head coach Donnie Jones said. "When you turn on the TV, you will know when UCF is playing. We are moving into a new league and will have new opportunities for exposure and the timing is right for a new floor, as well."
Added UCF women's basketball head coach Joi Williams: "The new court and floor design are going to be great assets for our program. There are many things that make UCF such a special place, and this is yet another to add to the list. I can think of no better way to showcase UCF's brand as we head into the American Athletic Conference."
No one remembers the exact moment the idea occurred to use black, but once it surfaced, it seemed to be everything UCF wanted the court to embody.
UCF's external department and the basketball programs wanted it to be impactful, yet classic. Memorable, but not distracting. Unique, but with roots in the game. After all, for most, basketball begins on the blacktops of neighborhood playgrounds or streets.
After several failed attempts at matching the wood with the black stain similar to UCF's initial computer designs, the staff didn't think it would happen. UCF even released a mockup sketch of a typical hardwood court to the public, resigned that their dreams of the blacktop had died.
But Connor Sports Flooring persisted and encouraged UCF to stick with it as the company continued to send samples. Praters Flooring then sanded and re-finished the court.
"We've wanted to a `blacked out' court for a while now, so we were really excited when UCF decided to go that direction. The black stain gives the floor a unique quality while allowing the overall design to stay clean and simple. We couldn't be happier with the finished product," Praters Mike Trotter said.
UCF's graphic designer, Carlos Phillips, who worked closely with UCF senior associate athletic director Zack Lassiter on the project, just went with the flow and made modifications as needed. When he began working at UCF in 2011, he never imagined his job responsibilities would one day include designing a basketball court.
A former track and field athlete at Florida, he majored in broadcast and telecommunications with an emphasis in video editing. He started teaching himself Photoshop his senior year for a class project, and his life in digital design organically grew from there.
Phillips is proud of how the design turned out and wants it to be something that lasts. He hopes it helps create a fun atmosphere for the fans, whom he would love to see "black out" the first game of the 2013-14 season.
"I can't think of another court in college basketball that is like this one," Phillips said.
CFE Arena Floor Details
A Connor Sports Flooring QuickLock court (the same surface used in the NCAA Tournament)
Weighs 43,000 pounds
Manufacturing took place in Amasa, Mich., and took one week
Sanded, sealed, painted and finished at Praters Flooring in Rossville, Ga.
Finishing process took two weeks, with an additional week for the court to cure prior to being stacked and shipped
Delivered to CFE Arena Friday via UPS