Bucks new floor celebrates golden age of basketball, in a modern era
MILWAUKEE - It hearkens back to a golden age of Milwaukee basketball, but it remains sleek and modern.
The Bucks unveiled their new floor Tuesday night at the Milwaukee Art Museum, a fitting backdrop to honor the largest canvas of one of the world's most renowned pop culture artists.
In 1977, Robert Indiana painted every inch of the MECCA Arena's floor, creating international buzz in modest Milwaukee. And while the new Bucks floor is only painted in its traditional places, the contrasting stains in the Wisconsin maple are consistent with the mirror-image "Ms" Indiana featured 36 years ago.
"I loved it," Hall of Fame broadcaster Eddie Doucette said of the original Indiana design after the unveiling of the new floor. "I loved it because it was different, and it was something that Milwaukee needed at that time. We needed color in that old building. And I thought that the fact that we were bringing along a new team, this was the perfect compliment."
Bucks Vice President of Business Operation John Steinmiller's goal for the new design was to see history melded with contemporary.
"The design is very clean, very inspirational," Steinmiller said.
But before the design could be finalized, the NBA had to sign off on the unique design, which had to pass one big litmus test.
"It has to show up well on television," Steinmiller admitted. "It passed those tests; the fact that it won't be distracting, it won't be overbearing for television."
As for the construction process itself, the floor was produced by Action Floor Systems of Mercer, and assembled, sanded, and painted on-site by ProStar Surfaces, owned by Hal Koller, who was ready to go with the design, conceived as his nephew, Ben Koller, was receiving notoriety for his artistic displays of the original Robert Indiana floor. But as the clock ticked down, Hal was still waiting for blessings from the original artist and the league before he could forge ahead.
"(We were) flying by the seat of our pants, waiting for answers from the NBA and the Bucks," Hal Koller said. "There's a lot of hand-painting on that floor. It looks great. We put the last coat on last Friday, and then we stacked it up on Monday."
Koller says typically NBA floors are built to last about eight seasons. The Bucks have been playing on theirs for 15. For the last three years, the BMO Harris Bradley Center's floor had been the NBA's oldest surface. Until now.
One added feature will be there for one night only - at least on opening night. The names of season ticket holders will be painted on the mid-court stripe, a symbol of the loyal fans that the team says they need to keep at the center of everything.