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NCAA Final Four basketball court comes from American Indian Reservation


A photo of workers installing wood flooring at the NCAA tournament in New Orleans

Photo courtesy of Jack Gruber, USA TODAY

It’s time for the NCAA Men’s Final Four — and all eyes are usually glued to the action on the court.  But this year special attention is being paid to the actual court itself.

This “Court of Champions” comes from the Menominee Forest and Menominee Tribal Enterprises in Wisconsin.  It all began with a maple tree which provided the amazing physical properties that are perfect for the court.  The wood is beautiful, tough and does not splinter or sliver.

The flooring is made up of about 225 panels. Floors like these may cost $100,000 and more.

After the game is over, the flooring company gives the winning team the first right of refusal on the purchase of the floor. Once purchased, the winning team will typically cut up the floor and sell pieces to their fans and alumni.

It is a long journey from a sustainable forest on an American Indian Reservation to the Superdome in New Orleans.  Along the way, the court passed through Michigan where it was assembled and Ohio where it was painted.  It has made stops in Louisville, Ky., Atlanta, Ga., Auburn, Ala, Hattiesburg, Miss., and Baton Rouge, La, as it is trucked to its final destination.  The NCAA was very protective of the floors and did not permit anyone to view them in advance of the tournaments.

The Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory and the College of Menominee Nation have been collaborating for more than a decade on a variety of projects focusing on education, research, technical assistance and indigenous wisdom for sustainable forestry and forest products. Together, they are working on this interesting marketing project that will ultimately highlight the Tribe’s sustainable forest management practices.

Menominee Tribe does more than provide wood for gym floors. It manages 235,000 acres on its reservation north of Shawano, producing about 20 million board feet of lumber annually from 14 species of wood.

The Menominee Forest has been managed in a sustainable manner for more than 100 years.

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US Forest Service
Last modified March 29, 2013
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