Four bidders are in the running to own the last physical reminder of Vancouver’s former NBA team.
Michael Marti, who acquired the former Vancouver Grizzlies practice court last month, told the Courier “four guys are really after me to sell it.” Since Marti posted the court on Craigslist Dec. 3, he’s received more than 150 calls from people interested in taking the court off his hands. The bid stands at around $13,000, but could change given the cost of transporting the 4,700-square-foot court.
Marti is still receiving offers on the court daily. On Tuesday, he was contacted by more than 10 interested buyers, including one in Washington D.C. Some have been mum on their personal details.
“One guy, it seems like he’s a pro. He’s quite tall. He wouldn’t lead on who he was, but he struck me as a basketball player and he seemed to know the court quite well,” he said.
Marti operates the Planet Lazer laser tag chain, which acquired the court by accident when his company bought a former Gold’s Gym property in Richmond. Before becoming a gym, the facility had been owned by B.C. Basketball. Marti said he has little connection to the Grizzlies franchise, which moved Memphis in 2001. The outpouring of interest from bidders and the media surprised him.
“I didn’t even think I’d get one or two requests,” he said. “I thought it would be a joke, to be honest. It’s not of value to me, so I had no conception that it would be of value to somebody.”
But the level of interest doesn’t surprise B.C. basketball enthusiasts like Doug Eberhardt, who coached a Grizzlies-sponsored youth squad during the team’s time in Vancouver, and has been an assistant coach on several NBA teams.
During that time, Eberhardt had his office at the Richmond practice space. He currently coaches basketball at Charles Tupper secondary, and said Grizzlies jerseys are popular among his players.
“A lot of [players] wear retro Vancouver Grizzlies memorabilia, but they never saw the team play, they have no history with the team at all. [The court] is the one physical reminder left.”
For now, it’s unclear whether the court will remain a court.
“It’s not a floor that can be saved very easily,” said Richard Hook, who works at B.C. Hardwood Floor Company and inspected the court. “You could cut out sections and make panels out of it and put it back together, but it’s labour intensive due to the type of system it is.”
Eberhardt said keeping the court usable for basketball would be the best case scenario, but agreed the logistics of the move would likely make that difficult.
“If someone buys it and puts it in their house I’ll be happy to know it lives on as a piece of memorabilia,” he said. “It wouldn’t be as great as if it were kept as a real gym floor. But every time they’d run over centre court, they would know that the Grizzlies actually existed.”
The court was still listed on Craigslist by the Courier’s press deadline.