The madness starts in Chattanooga; local company helps create Final Four courts

This is only the third time Praters Flooring has done the men's and women's Final Four floor in the same year. (Image: Praters Flooring)

As the NCAA basketball season comes to an end, the basketball courts are on the way back to the Chattanooga area.

After Sunday night's women's final in Columbus, and Monday night's men's final in San Antonio, crews from Praters Flooring broke down the courts and loaded them on a truck to be sent back to Chattanooga. Prater's is a flooring company based in Chattanooga. They do most of their work at their warehouse in Rossville, Ga.

Michael Prater is one of the shop's owners. He says this year's Final Four courts were in his shop just last week. This is only the third time he's ever designed the floors for both the men's and women's tournaments in the same year.

"There was a big learning curve," Prater said. "When we got into it, we were unsure if we wanted to keep doing this."

The process tips off after the company get's a shipment of wood, grown and chopped, by a company called Connor Sports Flooring. Then, Steven Pendergrass applies a full court sanding press.

"The next thing would be to, since it's a stain floor, we have to get it stained," Pendergrass said. "So we need a lay out to show us what needs to be stained, whether it be the 3-point area, the body, or just a border."

That's when they start adding the finesse of logos and designs. Then 4 to 6 weeks later, the courts make their debut.

Prater says he's worked on floors all his life, but for the last decade, his work is now assisted by something he loves.

"I love college basketball. I love this time of the year when the tournament is going on. It's awesome!"

And even if you don't love the sport, you can still like the job.

"I've never watched a basketball game in my life," said Pendergrass. "But I love doing the work."

Prater says the artwork can cost up to $25,000. His employees are responsible for installing and tearing down the courts at the tournaments.

"After the game tonight, three or four hours, they'll be breaking that thing down, putting it in a truck and sending it back here."

After a team wins the title, they have the option to buy the court.

They company says teams will typically buy the logo at the center of the court, and return the rest.

Prater says they usually do one of the tournaments every year. They'll find out what their plans are for the next basketball season sometime in the fall.

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