In 1977, the City of Milwaukee took a substantial creative risk by hiring famed pop artist Robert Indiana to paint the basketball floor at the MECCA Arena. Amid skepticism and controversy, the world of art and sports converged and the MECCA Floor went on to be recognized as the world's largest pop art painting. The new floor catapulted Milwaukee as a forward-thinking, art-conscious city and ushered in a basketball golden age for the Milwaukee Bucks and Marquette Warriors.
Fast forward thirty-five years. While the MECCA era came to an untimely end in the late 1980's when the Bucks moved to the BMO Harris Bradley Center, its legacy continued to live on in the hearts of a few Milwaukee residents. After being tipped off by super fan Andy Gorzalski that the floor was being sold on an architectural salvage site, Greg Koller of Prostar Athletic Surfaces, stepped in and purchased the iconic MECCA Floor in hopes of preserving history while building upon its legacy.
On July 4th, 2011 Greg Koller unexpectedly died, yet the day before his passing, Greg encouraged his son Ben to move back home from Los Angeles in order to bring the MECCA Floor back into the public eye. Some of his last words to Ben were...
"The MECCA isn't just a basketball floor or just a work of art. It is an idea that represents taking risks, thinking big and going after your dreams. Not only do I want to celebrate the spirit of innovation and of history, I want to use the floor to inspire new entrepreneurs, new innovators, new people who want to rewrite policy and run for office. I want it to be a symbol of: 'You can do it. Take the risk. Go after it. Leave a dent in the universe.'"
(Gregory V. Koller: July 3rd, 2011)
Following the call to duty of his father and the stern command of artist Robert Indiana, Ben moved back to Milwaukee and enlisted the help of several Remarkable Milwaukeeans in his quest to re-birth the MECCA Floor. Their efforts have made international news with articles in the New York Times, Fast Company Magazine and several local publications as well as an ESPN 30 for 30 short film chronicling the story of the MECCA Floor.
The Grand Finale for the MECCA Floor is to be permanently and publicly displayed intact for as many people as possible to experience its beauty and to continue the mythical story.
What a journey the MECCA Floor has been on so far, yet the time has come for Her to rest in a place She can call...