SBJ/Feb. 3-9, 2014/Facilities

76ers have designer for practice home but aren’t set on site

Don Muret
The Philadelphia 76ers have hired 360 Architecture to design their new practice facility, but questions remain over the viability of the proposed site at the historic Philadelphia Navy Yard.

The team intended to start construction in January on the facility, according to a design proposal issued to architects in May. But as of last week, no shovels had broken ground, and the 76ers continue their due diligence on the site and are considering other locations, industry sources said.

“We aren’t ready for comment given nothing much has changed,” Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil said in an email exchange.

O’Neil would not say whether the Sixers remain committed to building at the Navy Yard. The site, a vacant lot, sits less than two miles from the Wells Fargo Center, their home arena. The team’s offices are situated elsewhere in the Navy Yard.

The design proposal pointed out that the NBA club would have some regulatory approvals to meet before it could break ground on the 55,000-square-foot project, including environmental issues tied to an old Navy aircraft factory that once operated on the site.

In addition, the site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and a portion of the property contains a prehistoric archeological area, a designation that triggers oversight by the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission (SportsBusiness Journal, June 10-16, 2013).

360 Architecture is also designing the Bulls’ new practice facility next to United Center.
Photo by: 360 ARCHITECTURE
Meanwhile, 360 Architecture is designing the Chicago Bulls’ new $25 million practice facility just east of United Center. The privately funded venue broke ground in June and is set to open this August, said Terry Savarise, United Center’s senior vice president of operations.

As part of their research, the Bulls toured practice facilities for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic and Oklahoma City Thunder, among others in the NBA.

The team also visited college basketball practice facilities at West Virginia and Nebraska. The Mountaineers’ $24 million building encompasses 64,000 square feet, on par with the cost and dimensions of the Bulls’ project.

The layout and work flow of the Thunder’s Integris Health Thunder Development Center impressed the Bulls’ brass. C.H. Guernsey & Co., the building designer, was recently hired to help plan the Toronto Raptors’ new practice facility.
 
On the technology front, the Bulls’ facility will integrate the newest player performance analytics tied to the use of video cameras and laptop computers connected to the practice court, said Michael Day, 360’s project manager.

There will be also multiple layers of security using biometric readers to separate the athletes from media entering the facility, Day said.

“We have players show up at midnight to shoot free throws,” Savarise said, referring to the Berto Center, the Bulls’ current practice facility in suburban Chicago. “The new facility will be open 24/7, but we don’t want the whole building lit up. We can adapt, and there are clever ways to do it.”

> COLLEGE TRY: AECOM has hired former Populous designer Ryan Sickman as a sports principal focusing on college projects.

Sickman
His first day on the job was Jan. 27, and to date Sickman said he has not been assigned a project. AECOM has plenty of college work going on these days, including arena projects at Arizona, Illinois and Ole Miss.

“It’s a great opportunity for me and presents some new challenges,” Sickman said.

Sickman spent the past eight years with Populous. His recent projects cover, among others, the expansion of Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium at Arkansas and a new dugout club underneath the concourse at Georgia’s Foley Field, which he believes is unique in college baseball.

Before Populous, Sickman was employed for three years with the old 3D/International, where he worked on the renovation of the Pentagon in Washington. Parsons, a California engineering and construction company, bought 3D/International in 2006.

Don Muret can be reached at dmuret@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @breakground.

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