The Boston Celtics said Monday they will replace the parquet floor they have used for 53 years with a new high-tech floor that will resemble and contain scraps from the old.
"We want people to walk into the FleetCenter and know that they're still seeing the Celtics," said Randy Randjelovic, a technical manager from Connor Sports Flooring Corporation, which is making the new floor.
The Celtics will retire the old floor on Dec. 22, giving it a ceremony usually reserved for retiring greats and championship banner-raisings. The new floor is expected to be in place for their first game of the new year, on Jan. 3 against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Indiana Pacers coach and former Celtics star Larry Bird, who played half of his Hall of Fame career on the old parquet, said before Monday night's game against the Celtics that he wasn't sentimental about the surface.
"Now, if they replaced the rims, it would be a little bit different," he said.
The old floor, which cost $11,000, was a distinctive feature of the Boston Garden, where the Celtics played until they moved to the FleetCenter in 1996. The floor's uneven surface and dead spots were believed by some to give the home team an advantage, and legend had it that Celtics players would direct opponents to dead spots and then swipe the ball when it took a bad bounce.
Because of a wood shortage caused by World War II, the floor was made with short boards of red oak of varying lengths and widths with the grains still showing.
Even though the Celtics are spending about $200,000 on the new floor, they'll mimic those features in the new floor. It will also have the same dimensions in its 264 five-foot-square panels held in place by 988 bolts made famous in an episode of the television show "Cheers."
It will also have a leprechaun at center court.
"I'm happy to say there is a future both for the tradition of the parquet floor and for the floor itself," said John Wentzell, general manager of the FleetCenter.
The new floor will also have a shock-absorbing system that will take less of a toll on players as they run and jump. And it will, eventually, be easier to assemble, cutting the time it takes to prepare the building for basketball after the NHL's Bruins play.
Although it has never been completely replaced, the old floor isn't as old as many believe. The Celtics have it refurbished every few years, replacing the worn boards with new ones.
Still, some of the boards probably remain from the original floor. So the team will try to salvage what it can from the old panels and use them to replace the new ones when they are worn.
"Its effects are starting to show, Wentzell said. "The Band-Aids are starting to fail."
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