Basketball courts get make-over Businesses fund Baltimore project


The ball swished through the net yesterday at the basketball court at Hanlon Park.

Until recently, that was not possible. The inner-city basketball court had no nets, one of the rims was lopsided, the other one was missing, and the court surface was covered with cracks.

Yesterday, scores of youngsters took turns playing two-on-two on a court refurbished with private dollars, part of a make-over of 12 courts in Baltimore.

The project is funded by FILA USA, the athletic shoe and apparel company based in Hunt Valley, which contributed $20,000. The Baltimore sporting goods chain Rudo Sports and Coca-Cola put up another $5,000 each.

Al Grosso, Rudo's director of advertising, said that the company's contribution was a natural expression of thanks. "We saw a way to give back something to the community that has supported us for years."

The refurbishing, he said, included resurfacing and repainting the court floors and the installation of new backboards and rims. The backboards now bear the logos of Rudo and FILA.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and other city officials were on hand to celebrate the contributions.

The restoration, though welcome, doesn't approach the need. The city owns as many as 400 basketball courts, perhaps half of them needing considerable repair, according to Bob Wade, the city's superintendent of recreation.

He noted that courts have been refurbished with private money before. Along with Reebok, Reggie Lewis, the late Baltimore-born Boston Celtics star, contributed to the restoration of a court at Collington Square. Several years ago, Reebok also joined with Dominique Wilkins of the Atlanta Hawks to redo a court in O'Donnell Heights. But, Mr. Wade said, never before has there been a multicourt renovation.

Mayor Schmoke admonished the youngsters to "care about this place." Too often, he said, basketball courts have been repaired only to be vandalized immediately.

Rebecca Williams, a basketball player at Douglass High School who played a brief two-on-two game with the mayor, shared in his sentiments. The court, she said, should give youngsters something positive to do.

"This'll keep a lot of them off the street, maybe from getting hurt or killed," she said.

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