June 21st, 2002

Nike Putting New Spring in Old Courts

By John Killen
Oregonian

Summary: A surface using recycled sneakers will be applied on more than 90 basketball courts in Portland parks

“It’s an opportunity to grow up fit, exercise and learn good sportsmanship.”—VERA KATZ, MAYOR OF PORTLAND

Saying the project was about dreams and hope, city officials gathered at a sunsplashed Grant Park Thursday morning to lavish praise on Nike for pledging to resurface more than 90 of Portland’s outdoor basketball courts.

Mayor Vera Katz, City Commissioner Jim Francesconi and Parks Bureau chief Charles Jordan bubbled with accolades for the athletic apparel giant amid a smiling group of perhaps 200 people.

“This is about your dreams,” said the mayor to young people sitting near the stage set up on the old asphalt court immediately north of Grant High School. “It’s an opportunity to grow up fit, exercise and learn good sportsmanship.”

Francesconi, commissioner of parks, said Beaverton-based Nike’s $2.2 million effort will help fulfill the city’s hopes to do right by its people. He also hopes it will amount to a challenge to other corporations to come through with similar gifts.

He said that’s especially important in light of the fact that a recent parks levy failed, not for lack of a majority yes vote, but because fewer than 50 percent of the city’s voters took part in the election.

For his part, Jordan challenged the young people to “enjoy, protect and pass on” the courts to the next generation.

Gary M. DeStefano, president of Nike USA operations, said that the courts will be covered with a springy surface made mostly of ground-up athletic shoes. The effort, labeled the Anniversary Project, is Nike’s way of celebrating its 30th anniversary.

The 90 courts to be resurfaced are in more than 30 parks. The project will include 130 new backboards, rims and standards.

DeStefano showed off drawings of what the courts will look like: They’ll be a bright, brick red with yellow striping. In the center of each will be a circular Anniversary Project logo with the Nike swoosh at the center.

Dion Schneider of Nike, who has supervised the installation of the surface at more than 80 sites around the world, said the new surfaces should last at least 10 years “with reasonable care.”

The resurfacing is scheduled to start Monday. Howard S. Wright Construction Co. of Portland, which is donating much of its work, plans to do about nine courts at a time. The project should be finished in September.

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