MADISON — The Boone County Basketball League will debut its new playing surface at the Madison Civic Center when the season begins during the first week of March.
“We couldn’t be more pleased with the quality of product we received,” said Kevin Harper, president of the youth league. “The kids deserve it and we’re excited with how things have worked out.”
The “buddy league” structure sees pre-k through seventh-grade players, as long as the youth doesn’t turn 13 before September. Cheerleaders also participate in the league.
In the “school division,” the league has picked up the slack left when Boone County Schools abolished elementary school sports via a budget-related measure approximately five years ago. The school division encompasses fourth- and fifth-grade students.
“We have tryouts at the schools and the board has been really good to work with us and while they (kids) are a part of our league, they are still representing their school,” he said. “That has been an exciting thing on Friday nights and they fill the seats for those kids. It is really good to see. It can be more exciting with more people than a high school game.”
The league has grown in recent years, and while it doesn’t promote or advertise in other counties, rosters do see players from Kanawha, Lincoln and Logan counties represented.
The league usually has a membership of about 400 kids, but that has been cut in half in 2021 because of COVID-19.
In negotiations with the city of Madison, the league generally pays out about one-third of its concessions profits for the use of the facility, but with the purchase of the new floor by the league, the municipality agreed to waive those fees as the floor will become property of the city at the end of their terms.
“They’ve been great to work with us,” Harper said. “They care about the kids and they want to see the civic center used and the kids enjoying it. Within the city, it helps because things are hopping when the league is playing and the gas stations and restaurants all benefit from the traffic on game days.”
Harper, who also serves as the coach for the Scott High girls basketball team, said he has been researching the potential for purchasing a new floor for three years. The old retractable flooring originally came from the Charleston Civic Center and was donated to the city in the late 1960s or early 1970s. A new floor would cost approximately $180,000.
“We knew we couldn’t do that,” he added. “We found the Ohio Floor Company in Ohio and they do a lot of business with the NCAA and NBA.”
Harper identified a retractable floor that was used only one weekend in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament by Villanova University.
Harper said the city allowed the old flooring to be used as a trade-in and the new floor was purchased for $80,000 by the league. The new floor was cut to fit the Madison Civic Center and the flooring company added some safety features to prevent tripping hazards that the previous floor did not have. The league logo and font replaced the NCAA graphics on what Harper said should last for about 50 more years of regular play in the winter.
The surface came with slight outer damage, which had to be removed anyway to fit inside the civic center, providing a perfect home for the new hardwood, according to Harper.
“The floor belongs to the city and we feel the kids are getting the benefit from it and the city can get the benefit of it as well,” he said. “It just made sense.”
Harper added that the flooring company praised the City of Madison maintenance department for how the old floor was stored in a temperature-controlled environment in sections on individual carts, which preserved the life of the floor.
“We’d like to see our county high schools use the floor for tournaments at the Madison Civic Center,” he said. “We think it can be a great community resource.”
Harper said he is pleased with the product the league received.
“Honestly, the floor is down right now and sometimes I go there and just look at it,” he said with a laugh. “We essentially got a nice, modern new floor for a fraction of its value. We couldn’t be happier.”