Stories from the #OfficialCourt of EuroBasket 2015: Riga, Latvia
3 years ago
Connor Sports provided the official courts for EuroBasket 2015. Building, designing and installing courts for EuroBasket 2015 has allowed Connor Sports technicians to experience basketball in unique and new settings across Europe. Danny Lahr, the Connor Sports technician in Riga, Latvia, shared his story from the #OfficialCourt.
The official court of EuroBasket 2015 took me took Riga, Latvia. After a thirteen-hour flight and a twelve-hour layover I found myself in a city filled with Eastern European history and bursting with EuroBasket pride.
My fifteen-minute walk from my hotel room to Arena Riga, where EuroBasket is being held, takes me on a path down history. I’m surrounded by beautiful old buildings and structures left in despair from the Russian occupation. All of these buildings continue to be occupied by tenants and businesses regardless of their outside condition. In an attempt to save the history contained within the building’s walls, Riga is starting to restore many of the churches and structures.
When wandering through the city its easy to assume residents of Riga are unfriendly to visitors. My assumption was shattered while installing the official court of EuroBasket 2015 in Arena Riga. The majority of the installation crew spoke English, which allowed me to get a better insight into the Latvian personality and lifestyle. I realized Latvians weren’t opposed to tourists, they are just shy and reserved by nature. When the barrier is broken they are gracious, funny and respectful.
The kind and well trained crew made the court installation easy. Arena Riga owns a Connor Sports Quick-Lock portable court and the facility staff knew exactly how to install the surface. It was a simple process made fun by the friendly and welcoming crew.
Once the games started the arena took on a new identity. The official court was no longer a wood court in an arena, it was the stage on which elite European athletes performed for proud and enthusiastic fans from across the European continent.
The in-arena energy was like nothing I have ever experience. I thought I knew excited fans from my time in NBA arenas and at the NCAA Final Four but EuroBasket added another decibel to fandom. During play fans were chanting in unison and cheering non-stop for their teams. At time outs, fans unveiled massive country flags or team jerseys. Many were dressed from head to toe in their team’s colors and if there was skin showing it was painted with colors of their country.
The pride European basketball fans feel for their teams is incomparable to any sports allegiance I have previously seen. Its humbling to know I helped provide the court fans gathered around to support their countries. At the end of my journey, my time in Latvia will be marked by the history and pride that streams from the streets of Riga into the hearts of their fans.