The Harry Jerome Sports Centre is, by any account, unique. Named for famed Canadian Olympian Harry Jerome, the facility has a lot to live up to. Jerome was a track star, who at age 18 broke the Canadian record in the 220-yard dash. Despite injury, adversity, and facing racial bias as a black man, Jerome went on to be heralded as one of the world’s top runners in the 1960s and a three-time Olympic athlete. Jerome also obtained degrees in physical education from the University of Oregon and became a teacher in Canada. Even more notably, Jerome became an advocate for rights of Canadian athletes and minorities.
As if bearing the moniker of one of Canada’s greatest athletes isn’t exceptional enough, the facility is one of only three indoor velodromes, arenas for track cycling, in Canada. It’s also the home of Volleyball BC, making it a premier hub for the sport throughout the province of British Columbia. So for a landmark of this grandeur, not just any flooring will do. Opened in 1997, the facility was in dire need of new flooring. The existing floor was a safety hazard to athletes and users of the facility.
“The floor that was in there was an entry level floor and didn’t have a lot of strong biomechanical characteristics,” Robbins Regional Manager Andrew Nemeth said. “It was a series of tiles that were on top of some kind of material, concrete. It was also quite noisy, too, and didn’t have good acoustical properties.”
While Nemeth said the Sports Centre was a new client acquisition for Robbins, they had been in discussions with facility operators for years about replacing the floor with a better, multipurpose use floor. Finally the facility was awarded a grant and could move forward with the project.
Sal Cuccione, salesperson for Centaur Products, an authorized Robbins dealer, worked with Nemeth and Harry Jerome Sports Centre Manager Derek Stevens to install a nearly 30,000-square-foot Pulastic Classic 110 in the spring of 2017 which would fit six competition volleyball courts, plus the cycling track seamlessly. The new floating synthetic system with continuous subfloor would provide safer, multifunctional capabilities appropriate for a variety of applications.
The project was such a success, it’s in the running for the Robbins Sports Surface of the Year Award. Now the visually captivating national treasure has a more comfortable, safer playing surface to match the greatness of the facility and its namesake.
Safety was a primary concern at the velodrome. The previous floor was a Connor Sport Court tile floor with a 3 mm underlayment. It was hard as a rock and could pose safety issues for athletes at the facility. Due to the nature of the movable tile flooring, there were gaps that could potentially be a tripping hazard. Because the tiles were movable, the floor was prone to shifting, another safety issue for users.
“The old floor was 20 years old and had no padding, so anything would have been much better than this floor,” said Harry Jerome Sports Centre Manager Derek Stevens. “There’s a number of other gyms in the area that have the Pulastic floor, so it’s what some people are used to.”
The old floor also stopped short of the velodrome track creating a tripping hazard for athletes coming on and off the track onto the main floor. Without the existence of true walls, the Sport Court tiles didn’t work with the steep embankment of the track.
“This floor is seamless,” Stevens continued. “Pulastic was chosen for the velodrome element of it just because we can have the floor come right up to the track and we weren’t dealing with cutting the tiles and having the tiles shift and that sort of thing.”
Cuccione also said that temperature changes in the facility meant contraction and expansion of the tiles, as well, which led to tile slippage and further risk of injury. Lack of resiliency in the floor was an issue, too. Players were dealing with scraped knees and needed the Pulastic surface to provide comfort and injury protection.
“They’re hard plastic tiles,” Cuccione said. “The surface was really hard, a lot of people were getting injured and they wanted a higher end product, something that was seamless, something that had some good shock absorption.”
Plus with a seamless, nonporous surface, the floor is easy to maintain, repair and clean.
“Everyone seems to enjoy the cleanliness element,” Stevens said. “Without the gaps in the tiles we don’t have as much dust, or at least dust tends to stay on spots and we can clean it up a little bit easier so that’s been a definite benefit for the facility in terms of maintenance, having a solid one-piece floor as opposed to tile.”
“This product here, it’s not slippery. There’s shock absorption. It feels good on the body when they do play on it,” Cuccione said.
Cuccione said he’d recommend the product to any client for the overall performance and safety.
“They wanted a surface in there for volleyball, so we did a volleyball surface that not only handles volleyball but it can handle bikes,” Nemeth said, which was important in a velodrome. “They can ride upon the surface and it won’t ruin the surface. It’s basically a very, very strong material and it can handle bikes and foot traffic at the same time it can be used for volleyball.”
Pulastic is constructed of recycled and renewable raw materials and the water-based finish virtually eliminates VOC content. With a wide array of color selections and low life cycle costs and maximum usability, it was a perfect fit for the Sports Centre.
“We’ve definitely noticed an increase in demand for the space because of the new floor,” Stevens said. “I would attribute that to things like less fatigue and less injury.”
Stevens said everyone has been thoroughly pleased with the new floor.
“It looks pretty impressive when you see a facility like that. You walk in and there’s quite a wow factor,” Nemeth said. “Especially when you see it set up for volleyball and you see all the volleyball players in there, that’s when you know you’ve done a good job.”