O'rena floor gets a facelift
First, the steps got a fresh finishing coat on the eve of the Republican Debate last November, and recently, the floor of Oakland's O'rena got its first alteration since opening in 1998.
The biggest change is the use of the bear's head at center court rather than the long-used bear wrapped around the OU logo.
"We've been talking about redoing the floor the past couple of years," Oakland director of athletics Tracy Huth said. "We want people to recognize our brand and right now we're doing that with the front-on bear's head.
"There were all these logos that were being developed over the course of time and we felt we needed to zero in so people would have the ability to recognize Oakland athletics."
The bear head design is distinct enough to be recognizable at any size, Huth pointed out, adding to its versatility.
Huth added the newer block "O" will continue to be used to represent the school as well.
Also, the baselines now read simple "Oakland" rather than "Oakland University." Huth said the black background was created with a stain rather than black paint, which should reduce any chipping.
Huth said the bear's head will likely be used in some fashion when the school hosts an NCAA tournament regional at The Palace next spring. Oakland drew attention for its cursive "Oakland University" on The Palace floor when it last hosted in 2006.
"We had a lot of leeway with what we did and we just wanted to get Oakland out there," Huth said.
The following year, the NCAA began standardizing its tournament sites, making them sterile and nondescript.
That's never been part of the thinking in the design process at Oakland, though.
"I wanted something unique that potential recruits would see and always remember," Oakland coach Greg Kampe said of the design during a March live chat. "I believe our court, when flashed on TV is memorable and people say 'Oh, that's Oakland.' Thirteen years ago, there was no other court like it. Now, you see many similar designs."
Kampe added that if he had to chose how to completely makeover his home court, he would make it entirely black with gold trim.
As for current changes to the O'rena, Huth said a companion to the mural on the east wall is likely on the south side of the arena as well, but wasn't sure if there would be time to have it created prior to the start of the season. He didn't specify what the subject of the new mural might be.
What would you like to see painted there?