(Article and pictures courtesy Louisiana Tech Athletics & www.latechsports.com)

Aug 28, 2007

RUSTON – Demolition of the Thomas Assembly Center court began today as crews from WJ Enterprises began the initial process which will ultimately culminate in the installation of a new, state-of-the-art Maplewood floor at Louisiana Tech.

David LeBlanc, Vice President of Sales for Sports Floor, Inc. – the general contractor for the project, said the projected finish date for the entire job is Oct. 13.

“I would expect the removal of the entire floor to be completed by the end of this weekend,” LeBlanc said. “The new flooring materials are set to be delivered next week, and the installation process usually takes about 30 days.”

LeBlanc said the new floor, which is set to be named Karl Malone Court in honor of the former Louisiana Tech star who made this project possible with his generous donation of $300,000 earlier this summer, is the same state-of-the-art material that all NBA practice facilities boast.

“Most NBA teams play on portable floors because those same arenas are used for other events,” LeBlanc said. “However, their practice facilities use this exact floor. This flooring has a resilient sub-flooring which provides comfort and safety for the athletes.

“Obviously, Karl Malone has a unique perspective of this after having played in the league so long. He knows how important this type of floor is to the athletes.” LeBlanc said the big difference is the type of sub-flooring under the actual hardwood.

“Years ago when the arena was built, the existing floor was considered state-of-the-art,” LeBlanc said. “However, what we’ve found is that the ironbound floor is very hard. Just talk to the coaches and they can back it up. A hard floor can cause stress fractures, shin splits and other health issues.”

LeBlanc said that the current TAC floor had a shock absorption of around 10 to 15 percent while the new floor will have a shock absorption of around 60 percent.

“It will make a huge amount of difference in the amount of energy the floors absorbs instead of the athlete and that will make a huge difference to them over the course of a season,” LeBlanc said.