GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Eight days before the competition begins, a shiny new basketball court has been laid in place for the Final Four.
Made of sturdy maple harvested in November in northern Michigan, the court was shipped to Idaho Falls, Idaho, for painting and staining. From there it was trucked to Arizona and unloaded Friday.
It took just a few hours for the University of Phoenix Stadium operations crew to assemble the court at what normally would be midfield for the stadium's chief tenant, the NFL's Arizona Cardinals.
The workers were so efficient they had to be told to stop for a bit so the court wouldn't be finished when the media was allowed in at midmorning.
"We said, 'Stop putting it together. You're going too fast,'" said Andrew Campbell, director of partnerships and events for Gerflor, the parent company of the court's builder, Connor Sports.
New seats are being installed all the way down to courtside for the tens of thousands expected when the national semifinals are played on April 1.
Installed 2 1/2 feet above the stadium floor, the court is much bigger than a normal one, measuring 140 feet by 70 feet. An NBA court is 112 feet or 120 feet by 60.
The company also is installing courts at the Convention Center in downtown Phoenix as part of the Final Four festivities and the coaches' convention. Connor Sports built 21 courts for the NCAA men's and women's playoffs this year, Campbell said.
The company has provided Final Four basketball courts for the NCAA since 2006
"Every year it gets smoother and smoother and easier and easier," Campbell said.
When the tournament ends, the championship school has the first option to purchase the court. In the rare occurrence that no one buys it, it is recycled for the next year.
This is the first Final Four at the stadium, which has been the site of two Super Bowls.
Two seasons ago, the first NCAA Division I football championship under the new four-team playoff format was held there.