AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, prior to last year's Southern Regional Competition, which helps decide the teams participating in the Final Four. The home of the Dallas Cowboys is currently reinstalling 106,000 sq. ft. of staging to accomodate this year's championship series.
Just 16 schools are left in this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships, but by the time they arrive in Arlington, Texas, on April 5 that number will be shrunk to just four programs.
The Final Four, the last leg of the three-week NCAA tournament, is about 10 days away, and construction crews are busy installing the raised floor system at host venue AT&T Stadium in Dallas, continuing a tradition that began in 2008 at Ford Field in Detroit.
Beginning Thursday of last week and expected to stretch into Friday of next week, the installation will raise both the court and the surrounding seating floor by nearly 30 inches from the ground. Once the massive platform has been built, crews will add 16,500 seats, boosting total capacity for the game to 70,000.
Crews spend weeks measuring and developing 3D models of stadiums prior to installation, said Brian Arnold, Sr. Regional Sales Rep for Staging Concepts, which designs the build out. The huge build requires over 6,000 staging platforms, spanning over 106,000 square feet.
“The majority of the platforms are pretty much the same from stadium to stadium,” he said. “Where it gets tricky is when the stadium makes a turn in the concrete and we need to create wedges and trapezoidal shapes with custom understructures to support the buildout.”
Each stadium has its own unique design challenges — at AT&T Stadium, Arnold said the biggest challenge is building around the field-level suites, noting “there’s a lot of infrastructure on the ground we have to account for.”
While Staging Concepts is in charge of the AT&T Stadium floor design, the installation is designated to the Colonnade Group, a Birmingham, Ala., contractor specializing in collegiate athletic events and hospitality. The actual basketball hardwood court installation is handled by Connor Sports Flooring.
“There’s a year's worth of planning that goes into each design,” said VP Bob Randall with Staging Concepts, who said that his firm works to develop precise schedules when each piece of stage will be delivered so that the 6,000 modular platforms can be correctly installed and connected together. The actual hardwood court is built and decorated with graphics at a facility in Menominee, Wis., before being transported to Dallas.
It takes about 32 truckloads to make the delivery. The staging is rated at about 150 lbs. per square foot — meaning a 4-ft. by 8-ft. section can support about 6,000 lbs.
The current install isn’t the first time AT&T stadium has used this flooring technique — last year, the stadium was host to one of the regional leads in games for the Final Four as a test run for the flooring system. Staging Concepts will build the same court and seating configuration for the 2015 Final Four at Lucas Oil Field, although a test run this year wasn’t required because the Indianapolis stadium had already played host to the premiere college event in 2010. The NCAA is committed to using the staging setup through 2018.
Interviewed for this article: Brian Arnold and Bob Randall, (763) 231-7121