By Edward Cardenas
AMASA (CBS Detroit) – When the best basketball players in the world hit the hardwood in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup later this month in Spain, they will be playing on Michigan-made courts.
Connor Sport Court International, which is based in the Upper Peninsula, was selected by FIBA (the International Basketball Federation) to supply custom-designed wooden courts for the six cities in Spain where the tournament will be held.
“The international segment of our business is the fastest growing segment,” said Bill Roever, director of international sales for Connor Sports, who added the company will have a strong presence at the tournament with nearly 30 employees.
“We will all be out there promoting Connor as a Michigan company,” he added.
This is the first FIBA Basketball World Cup – which will be played in Sevilla, Bilboa, Granda, Canary Island, Barcelona and Madrid – but not the first time Connor has provided playing surfaces for high-profile events.
EuroBasket will play its final rounds on a Connor Sports floor, the Brooklyn Nets dribble on one of their courts and for the past eight years, the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments have played on the northern Michigan hardwood. This includes the floor used in the 2009 Final Four at Ford Field.
The floors are made from northern hard maple grown in Michigan, northern Wisconsin and central Ontario. The wood is harvested from these areas and constructed at the plant about an hour north of Iron Mountain.
“Because of the cold growing season, as well as the mineral content in the ground, it produces a very dense wood which has very little expansion and contraction,” said Roever. “When you build a basketball court, you don’t want the wood to expand and contract because it will tend not to stay flat.”
In addition to being to providing the floors for these major tournaments, the company has been honored at home. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development last year named Connor Sports the Michigan Agriculture Exporter of the Year.
“The agricultural products grown and processed in Michigan are the best in the world and gaining a growing share of the global markets. Connor Sports is a prime example of that and I congratulate the company and its employees for their success,” said Gov. Rick Snyder in a release.