Belmont High School Girls' Basketball Head Coach Melissa Hart goes to a portion of the court and begins to lift the layer of court from the floor of the Wenner Field House.
"All you would need is a tool to bring the entire floor up," said Hart about the court that she once joked to a schools official if it was linoleum. It isn't – it's a synthetic vinyl – and the official wasn't amused with Hart's observation.
Laid in 1990 – it was brand new when Belmont High won its most recent State Basketball championship in 1991 – the surface has long seen its best days pass after years of basketball practices, volleyball games, Recreation Department nights and just plan day-in and day-out use has made the court a threadbare ghost of what it once was.
It doesn't come as any surprise that the main court in the Wenner Field House is considered the worst in the Middlesex League. Players and coaches have pointed out the worn, slick surface that have not been up to the slip resistant standards.
As one visiting coach said last year, "It's like playing ball on your mother's kitchen floor."
The court's condition and reputation has been on the School Department's radar as the entire gym floor has been slated for replacement for several years including last fiscal year when $150,000 was asked to be set aside.
Yet with several items in front of the line for consideration for a limited amount of funds from the Capital Budget – which directs money for big ticket items that goes beyond the department's budgets – it would appear that another year would elapse without the needed changes being made.
But this year, the schools believe they have found a solution to the flooring issue.
At last week's Capital Budget meeting, Belmont Superintendent Dr. Thomas Kingston said that he and Belmont School Committee Chairwoman Laurie Graham will be actively approaching businesses and other community to find someone or willing to donate $165,000 to replace the floor.
In return, the company or business will likely be allowed to place its name on the court's floor as part of a naming agreement with the department.
While popular with professional sports venues – the TD BankNorth Boston Garden and the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence to name just the local examples – it is only recently that public school districts have begun to provide local firms the opportunity to place their name before students and those attending events for a significant payment to the facilities.
In one Wisconsin town, Fort Atkinson, the basketball court and football field are named for a dairy and a bank while the baseball diamond will have its own name.
In this case, the naming rights did not pay for the facility but rather just the right of the firm to use its name on the sites: a 12-year, $95,000 agreement by the diary and a 10-year, $50,000 agreement for the basketball court. The proceeds go to the districts scholarship fund.
The Fort Atkinson district isn't doing this on the fly; it has developed a 20 page guide on the who, what, where and how of naming opportunities that not only encompass athletic facilities but the entire school. A business, or individual, can sponsor anything from a classroom to a library to the computer lab, according to Mark Stewart of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
In the case of Belmont, the goal is to secure funding for the repair of the facility.
But it's unlikely that future Belmont teams will be stepping onto a classic wooden floor since it will likely be cost prohibitive. Rather, a floor that performs like wood but is made with polyurethane rubber or a co-polymer flooring that is connected like wood planks.
If all goes to plan and a big check is written to the schools, it would only take six weeks for a new floor to be installed, just in time for the coming basketball season.