Hall of Fame Effort: How BAC helped renovate one of Canton, Ohio’s other iconic facilities
Located just a couple hundred yards away from the iconic Pro Football Hall of Fame, the C.T. Branin Natatorium is one of Canton, Ohio’s other sports treasures. Opened on June 2, 1974, the facility is named after one of the state’s greatest high school dynasties—the McKinley High School boys swim team, coached by Ted Branin. From 1928-1972, Branin’s teams won 13 state championships and finished runner-up eight times.
Considered one of the premier swimming facilities in the Midwest, C.T. Branin plays host to USA Masters swimming and diving championships, as well as ones for the Ohio High School Athletic Association, NAIA and NCAA, among others. Further ingraining itself in Ohio swim history, the Natatorium has hosted every state boys swim meet since 1976 and every girls meet since 1980.
When Jay Walton, a 25-year member of BAC Local 8 Ohio and Project Foreman for Youngstown Tile & Terrazzo LLC (YTT), first visited the jobsite to assist on the facility’s $3.2 million renovation, he was amazed to find all of the original tile work intact. Donated to the Canton Schools Board of Education and City Recreation Department by the Timken Foundation, the facility’s original construction cost was just over $2 million.
“It was in remarkable condition,” says Walton, a veteran of myriad large projects, including numerous shopping malls throughout the country.
A national leader in contract flooring, Youngstown Tile & Terrazzo partnered with general contractor firm Norman Eckinger Inc., on the project—a job that called for providing a flat and accurate pool wall 2 feet x 600 linear feet along the perimeter.
To help tackle the specifics, YTT and Norman Eckinger enlisted the help of workers from three different BAC Unions, including Local 8 Ohio, Local 36 Ohio, and Local 6 Ohio. Throughout the process, 12 members from the respective Locals worked on the project, generating 225 workdays, including weekends, with approximately 1,800 work hours. As one of the country’s quality contractors and installers of tile, terrazzo, marble, granite for 70-plus years, YTT has been a valued partner and asset with BAC Local 8 Ohio, employing a majority of its highly skilled members.
“The C.T. Branin Natatorium is unique because of the tight window we were allotted to complete the work,” Walton says. “Having BAC members made achieving our goal easily attainable. The challenges we had to endure are unique on every project, which is what makes our job so satisfying. I have worked with BAC members my whole career and know they are some of the most dedicated, skilled, professional craftsmen on the planet.”
Walton’s team was tasked with renovating an authentic building, which he says delivers any number of existing difficulties. Coming into the process after a majority of the intrusive work was completed, the renovation team had to remove the old pool gutter system and replace it with a new stainless one—a process that takes a strategic amount of planning.
To knock out the job, the BAC team used Mapei Modified Mortar Bed to build the wall back— approximately 2 inches thick for the new Daltile CMT mosaics. All mosaics, which were 25,000 square feet, were installed and grouted via 100% solids epoxy.
The pool wall also required the teams to rebuild all the built-in steps. “There was a lot of forming skill and patience required to execute this type of work,” Walton says.
The demo of the original patterned CMT for the pool deck, wall, locker rooms, and showers was done by the general contractor. “We had to work closely with the crew to ensure the original mud beds were sound and properly flashed with Mapei Quick Patch,” Walton says. “The substrates had to be sanded off smooth.”
In addition to all the work YTT and BAC has done in the northeast Ohio area, Brian Collier, Field Representative of BAC Local 8 Ohio, says the Natatorium stands out for the attention to detail and craftsmanship the teams supplied. “The local high school swim meet staff is thrilled with the completed work. Having been built in the early 1970s, the staff informed me that much of the pool deck had been compromised due to the fact that over the years sections were cut open to repair fixtures underneath. With the complete resurfacing of the mosaic deck tile, the Natatorium has been restored to its original luster.”
Collier says the C.T. Branin staff were so impressed with the craftsmanship that they decided to have Youngstown Tile & Terrazzo return to re-tile the main sporting event lobby and entrance.
As for the finished product, C.T. Branin's Aquatics Director Mike Davidson says the renovation upgrades help put the facility in a stronger position to host different events during the year. "These renovations have taken the NAT into the 21st Century with regards to the physical structure of the pool adding flow over gutter system. This will enhance the pool's filtration and the quality of the racing. The end result is spectacular in both vision and functionality. The response we've received has been tremendous and appreciated."