Osprey squads take to new arena floor for first time

Riley Platt, Sports Editor

After months of planning and construction, the University of North Florida’s (UNF) volleyball and basketball squads practiced on UNF Arena’s new CSI Companies Court for the first time on Monday, a sign that updates to the facility are nearly complete.

While the arena’s renovation was announced last November, no news of an updated floor broke until June. The University announced a partnership with CSI Companies, a local staffing agency, that will see CSI pay upwards of $2 million for the naming rights to the court over seven years.

The new floor replaced the original 1993 model, but this wasn’t what caught the attention of fans during its reveal. Basketball courts are traditionally a natural wood color, such as beige or other variations of brown. In recent years, though, nontraditional designs have caught on in the world of college basketball.

View of new court from the top of UNF Arena
The stark contrast between the new court color from the old can best be seen from high up in the arena’s upper level. (Riley Platt)

UNF became the latest to join, grabbing headlines with a gray court. Contrary to the previous ‘Ospreys’ script across the baseline, it now reads ‘Swoop,’ adding a unique twist of school pride to the floor. Other additions include new LED lighting and a hospitality suite in the venue’s west end. 

When Spinnaker stopped by on Monday, construction crews were still hard at work in their pursuit of finishing before the upcoming basketball seasons. A few yellow vests didn’t put a stop to the action, though, as these squads wore in their new digs for the first time.

Women's basketball player dribbles the ball.
Lyric Swann (22) is one of nine new players on Coach Gibbs’ squad, retaining just one starter from last season. (UNF Athletics)

The women’s basketball team got things started before noon, preparing for their season opener against Warner University on Nov. 7. Head coach Darrick Gibbs is working with a very young squad full of new faces, but they’ll look to make waves in a competitive ASUN conference.

Men’s basketball began practice later in the afternoon and will be breaking in their freshly-renovated home a bit later, as they open the season on the road. They will take to CSI Companies Court for the first time on Nov. 19, when they face South Carolina State.

Men's basketball players huddle together during practice.
Men’s basketball has suffered a losing record for the past two seasons, but look to turn things around with a now-experienced squad. (UNF Athletics)

The first event taking place at UNF Arena this season will be volleyball’s River City Rumble duel with Jacksonville University on Nov. 7. This will be a welcomed change for the team, as they have called their rival’s Swisher Gymnasium a temporary home for much of the season.

As the finishing touches are now being added to the Bank of England Hospitality Suite, Ospreys can experience a sense of relief. This has been a team effort from top to bottom, but it has helped implement a facelift to an arena that ultimately needed one.

Construction workers work on hospitality suite
With the court now finished, all attention shifts to the Bank of England Hospitality Suite, which will feature a 72-seat overlook. (Riley Platt)

Once construction wraps up, there will still be one last thing missing: the fans. Volleyball will need all the support they can get in their home opener, so swing by for some fun and free excitement, along with a chance to check out the Ospreys’ new home.


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