Oakland University, located in Rochester, Michigan, is a public doctoral research institution serving more than 16,000 graduate and undergraduate students. Sports play an important role in student life at this NCAA Division 1 school. On game days up to 3,000 fans fill the Athletics Center O’rena, part of Oakland University’s Recreation and Athletics Center Complex, to cheer their basketball and volleyball teams, known as the Golden Grizzlies, to victory.
Student athletes play on “The Blacktop” a painted wood floor so unique it earns a mention on the Athletics Center O’rena’s Wikipedia page. Fans can even buy “Welcome to the Blacktop” Oakland Basketball gear.
Andy Adrianse, Associate Athletics Director, relies on the battery powered AutoVac™ from Kaivac to keep The Blacktop in top shape. It’s not easy considering how much wear and tear the floor endures. On game days up to 300 people walk on the court. Only 100 people touch the surface on practice days, but those sessions are long and intense. Heavy balls and other gear constantly pummel the floor and one wrong pair of shoes might scuff the finish.
Purchased through their distributor Colman-Wolf Supply, the AutoVac keeps The Blacktop clean and shiny through all this use. But, as Adrianse explains, good maintenance is more than just aesthetics. “Pivoting, cutting, and making other athletic moves on a dirty floor can lead to injury,” he says. “If the floor negatively influences outcomes, we are going to hear about it from our coaches.”
Complaints about the floor were common before purchasing the Kaivac machine five years ago. Adrianse blames their old cleaning method, dragging the floor with towel-wrapped plank. Not just inefficient, (“cleaning this way took hours,” says Adrianse) the tool might scratch The Blacktop’s polyurethane finish. An autoscrubber would be faster but the machine’s rotating pads still posed a scratching risk.
Adrianse looked to the pros for a better solution. “The Detroit Pistons played nearby, and their facilities department swore by their Kaivac, so I bought one. ”
As a result, cleaning improved right out of the gate. “I vividly remember the first time we ran the Kaivac. I could see a ‘track’ where it removed the dirt the other method left behind. The comparison was stark.”
The machine worked faster too, servicing 18,000 square feet in just 45 minutes instead of hours. This speed lets the four-person facility team use their Kaivac machine more often and in more parts of the Athletics Center O’rena building.
During basketball season staff clean the main court floor two to three hours before each game and three to four more times during that week. They also use the machine to pick up dirt and damaging road salts in high traffic corridors that lead onto The Blacktop. The AutoVac also removes spills both in the hallways and on the court. “Sports drinks create a sticky mess that attracts more dirt,” says Adrianse. “I’ll break out the attachment wand with the brush to deep clean those areas.”
Adrianse admits that the AutoVac costs more than a plank with a towel wrapped around it but would never consider another option. “The Blacktop’s unique look gets a lot of national attention. Other schools always ask how I maintain it,” he says. “Kaivac definitely created a loyal customer in me.”