Makeovers are inevitable when you have one of the oldest arenas in college basketball.

It was time for the Williams Arena court to be refinished this summer. The new designs highlighting the Barn nickname were unveiled with pictures released Monday night.

It definitely won’t look the same when the Gophers men’s and women’s basketball teams take the floor this year. Gophers spokesman Jake Ricker provided the Star Tribune with some details from the facilities staff about what will be different and why the changes to the court were made.this year. 

Why the changes?

Sanding down the floor and re-finishing the surface was primarily a decision driven by maintenance needs. After years of events (the Barn is utilized for much more than just Gopher men's and women's basketball) the damage the floor has taken from hosting all these events was becoming increasingly visible.  It is generally necessary to sand a floor every 7-10 years depending on usage and upkeep, and it was time. From a maintenance and appearance standpoint, the best thing to do was to remove everything, including the six-foot maroon border, and clean up all the additional lines that needed to be added/removed from the surface since it had last been painted.   

Floor design

Our Creative Services and Facilities teams worked closely on the design. They wanted to keep it simple, with more of a classic look that highlighted "The Barn" nickname. 

As we were moving through this process, the idea came up to make the playing surface look and mimic old barn wood. It would require a lot of technical assistance from our partners to determine how to achieve this look, but agreed that this was the look we wanted. That, along with a final design featuring the script version of "The Barn," helped celebrate the arena's famous moniker.

Part of the design also highlights the classic feel of the facility. I believe the new floor is the first in Williams Arena since the 1960s to feature thin lines marking the court's boundaries.

Floor work

Athletic Performance Solutions (APS) partnered with us on the project. After APS completed the sanding and we had a blank slate to work, we began to figure out how we would accomplish the look of the barn wood floor. With APS, we reached out to Bona, a company that specializes in basketball court finishes/paints, and discussed different ways to achieve the look we wanted.  

Bona came out for a few days to help us figure it out. Their idea was to layer colors and buff aggressively between each, making sure to be "consistently inconsistent," as our facility manager said. With that idea, APS began mixing and matching and after about eight samples we found the look we wanted. The layers that make up the court surface were then applied to the floor.

After the barn wood look was finished, it was time for game lines, logos and lettering. APS used the specs outlined in the design to lay out the court, then began applying Maroon paint, followed shortly by gold. All the game lines where measured, taped out and painted by hand. The Block ‘M’ at center court was measured and laid out all by hand (no stencil). The lettering was laid out using stencils for the maroon paint only, with all gold borders being cut and painted by hand (no stencil).    

The physical work on the floor took about three or four weeks and was a tedious process. APS and Bona were great partners, who worked very hard to achieve the look that we had in mind.

  

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