STARKVILLE — Old basketball courts never die: They simply move away, in this case to Ohio.
Tuesday morning, Ohio-based businessman Craig Charles emerged from a spirited last-hour bidding war to complete the purchase of the portable court used by Mississippi State University’s basketball teams for the past 15 years.
“When I went to bed (Monday), I was thinking, ‘Hey, I may be getting an unbelievable deal on this,” Charles, who owns a sports training facility in Liberty Township, Ohio, told The Dispatch. “But in the last hour of the auction, it got pretty busy. I think I went about $5,000 over what I told myself would be my ‘walk-away’ price.”
Charles’ winning bid came in at $30,600. After auction fees, MSU should collect roughly $28,000 from the sale. The university had put a reserve price of $15,000 on the court when it placed it for sale at auction on govdeals.com, a company that specializes in the sale of surplus items owned by public entities.
The portable court — it consists of 225 4-foot-by-8-foot sections — has been in use at Humphrey Coliseum for the past 15 years. The court will remain in place until the end of June to accommodate the university’s summer basketball camps. It will be available for transport on July 5 and the Bulldogs’ new permanent court should be in place by the end of September, according to Jay Logan, an assistant athletic director at MSU.
‘I think it’s going to work out well’
Charles, who said he has purchased other equipment through auctions on govdeals.com, said he had been keeping his eye out for a court for several years.
“I had seen four or five of those courts come up for auction before,” said Charles, who believes the addition of the court to his 50,000-square-foot facility will help establish his property as one of the top sports training facilities in the country.
Liberty Township is located roughly halfway between Cincinnati and Akron.
“I kept seeing courts for sale — South Carolina sold their court there, so did Kansas, I think, and the old Vancouver Grizzlies,” Charles said. “They all sold in the $25,000 to $26,000 range. I told myself the next time a court came up, I was going to go for it.”
With fees, Charles paid $32,130 for the court. He says it will cost another $5,000 to $6,000 to transport the court and remove all university logos and lettering, including the large “THE HUMP” lettering on the court’s two baselines.
Charles was among the early bidders and going into Tuesday’s final hours of the auction, he was thinking he was about to land a “smokin’ deal.”
“But then, about an hour before the close of the auction, it took off,” he said.
Indeed, of the 59 bids placed on the court, 37 came Tuesday morning from five bidders, almost doubling the high bid of $15,900 Charles had submitted three days earlier.
“I had hoped to get it at about $25,000, so I went over what I had planned,” he said. “But I already got a call from a man who wants to rent it, so I think I’ll be able to make my money back. I think it’s going to work out really well for what we are trying to do.”
MSU: ‘We’re happy with the outcome’
For Mississippi State, the auction continues to be an efficient way to sell off surplus items. The university has been selling surplus items — everything from pick-up trucks and office equipment to an airplane and a helicopter — on govdeals.com since 2011. To date, the university has sold more than 500 items on the site.
“It’s turned out to be a very good way to sell things for us,” said Don Buffum, director of procurement and contracts at MSU. “Before, we would have an annual auction. But this is far better, I think. In the past, we had find space to store everything we wanted to sell until we had our auction. And also, using (govdeals.com) really opened bidding up to a greater audience. We’ve sold items to people all over the country.”
Buffum said he followed the auction process, especially in the final hours.
“The first thing, of course, is to see if we got our reserve price,” he said. “After that, it was just a matter of how high it would go. It was fun to watch the dynamics of the auction as the auction came to a close and, of course, we’re happy with the outcome. It was a good deal for us and we hope Mr. Charles will get great use of the court for many years to come.”
Although he now lives in Ohio, Charles is a native Georgian. In fact, his father played basketball at the University of Georgia.
“I”m a big SEC fan,” he said. “That’s tough up here in (Ohio State) Buckeye country, so it’s pretty cool to be able to say I have a basketball court from an SEC school.”
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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