March Madness court installed at TD Garden ahead of Friday’s Sweet 16

TD Garden March Madness court
The 2018 March Madness logo on the TD Garden court. –Mark Dunphy

A worker at the TD Garden stood atop an extended ladder on Wednesday, putting the finishing touches on the camera above the hoop ahead of the NCAA tournament. The next person to climb the ladder will bring down a snippet of the net.

March Madness is coming to Boston on Friday in the form of two East Regional matchups. Jay Wright leads his top-seeded Villanova squad into the Garden to face West Virginia before Texas Tech takes on Purdue in the nightcap. The winners will meet on Sunday for a place in the Final Four.

There’s no local representative among the four, but one Boston school still made it onto the court. As the host of the tournament, Boston College gets its logo on the corner of the court.

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That court was delivered to 100 Legends Way in 397 four feet by seven feet sections, each tipping the scales at 188 pounds. It took three and a half hours for a team of six to swap the traditional Garden parquet for the new-look March Madness floor.

“No super-jumping technology in there or anything like that,” said Michelle Sandoval, a representative from Connor Sports. “There’s strict regulations for how the court needs to be made that we had to meet.”

Connor Sports built 12 courts for this year’s NCAA Tournament, sending a truckload of lumber to every regional host and the Final Four in both the men’s and women’s bracket. The courts were manufactured over the course of six months in Amasa, Mich., a town of 350 people on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In Amasa, the TD Garden court was laid out and assembled to make sure the pieces interlocked correctly, then stained, sealed, and shipped up to Boston.

With Purdue facing a 950-mile trip east and Texas Tech fans traveling double that, there might have been concerns that March Madness wouldn’t fill the seats. But Amy Latimer, president of the TD Garden, said tickets for both Friday and Sunday are sold out. She’s expecting 8,000 to 10,000 visitors to the city for a $25 million economic impact.

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“For us, as one of the major arenas in the country, you should host these events,” Latimer said. “The basketball fans here in Boston, they want to come see these games as well. So we feel like it’s part of our duty as a good community member to host these events.”

When the Garden last hosted the Elite Eight, in 2012, the 23 championship banners hanging in the rafters had to be removed to comply with NCAA regulations. This time around the banners were allowed to stay.

“That’s part of our history,” Latimer said. “These kids come out and get to play and they look up at 17 championships for the Celtics and six for the Bruins. I think it’s cool for them to play where these championships have been hosted.”

See Your Boston Teams Up Close

The teams playing this weekend will get the chance to take home their own piece of history. After the games are complete and the court dismantled, the 397 panels will be available for the teams to purchase. In the past, schools have auctioned off the pieces for charity or hung them on the walls in their gym. The winner gets a berth in the Final Four, a snippet of the nets, and first dibs on the court.

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