UD Arena losing a piece of its storied past

Process of removing old Tartan court starts next week


UD plays one last pickup game on the surface last used in 1984.

The last game on the old Tartan court at UD Arena looked nothing like the first.

As part of the three-year renovation of the arena, UD is tearing out the old surface, which has been beneath the wood court since the 1985-86 season. That process starts Tuesday and will take about a month. It’s not an easy surface to remove.

“It’s going to take a while to get it out and grind it out,” said Scott DeBolt, the director of UD Arena.

RELATED: Arena project biggest in UD history

To celebrate the history of the court, which debuted in 1969 when the likes of Ken May, George Janky, George Jackson and Tom Crosswhite were wearing the red and blue, UD played one last pickup game on the court Friday. The players were mostly students and UD employees. I was lucky enough to get an invitation after joking that I would donate $10 to the $72 million renovation. I’m pretty sure DeBolt’s going to hold me to that offer, however. I guess every little bit counts.

I don’t have an official bucket list, but if I did, playing a game at UD Arena would have been on it. Two years ago, hours after the last game of the season, I took a few shots in the empty arena. Putting on the the hightops and burning a few calories on the same court where Roosevelt Chapman scored a good percentage of his school-record 2,233 points, that’s a day I’ll never forget.

MORE: What coaches have to say about renovations

For the record, this is how I would describe my game: 60 percent Kyle Davis, 30 percent Scoochie Smith, 10 percent Kendall Pollard. I watched so much of them the last four years, I couldn’t help but be influenced by them.

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The court is not in great shape. It saw daylight — or at least the lights of the arena — only a couple times a year for the last 30-plus years. Every time the NCAA installed the court for the First Floor, UD’s wooden court was removed, and everyone would take photos of the Tartan court. This Tartan surface is the second Tartan surface. The original surface from 1969 was replaced with a newer version of Tartan in the 1970s.

Now UD fans will wonder: Can they buy a piece of the court? The answer is no. There are chemicals, such as mercury in the Tartan surface. The court will be taken away in bags, put in containers and taken to a disposal site.

That’s not a fitting end for a key piece of UD basketball history, but the pickup game Friday provided one last moment in the spotlight. The May brothers, Don and Ken, shot around after the game ended. Ann Meyers, inducted into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame last week, coach Don Donoher and the legend himself, Bucky Bockhorn, also said their goodbyes to the Tartan.

On the scoreboard, throughout the day, was a fitting tribute: “Remember the Tartan.”

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