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Volume 21 No. 31
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The NBA’s new practice facilities

Away from the arenas, embracing health-based partnerships

NBA clubs designing new practice facilities are giving their players a little space.

The newest trend has teams breaking with the practice of building the facilities into or adjacent to their arenas. It’s being driven by the desire to give players an exclusive space for training, conditioning and relaxing without the daily distractions of a big-city arena.

The Sacramento Kings are bucking the new movement, attaching their practice facility to Golden 1 Center, their new arena. But elsewhere, teams are developing a greater comfort zone for their players and using advances in sport science and technology to try to provide a competitive edge.

On the business side, the Kings, Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets have partnered with health care providers to develop practice facilities that include naming rights. They’re following a trend established by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls and, most recently, the Minnesota Timberwolves, all branding their practice facilities after medical centers. It’s a natural tie-in for sponsor activation. In some cases, local hospitals acquire space at the practice facilities to expand their operations, to serve both the public and professional athletes.

These new practice facilities are also helping to reshape districts in NBA cities. That’s the case with the Kings’ project in Sacramento, as well as those in Milwaukee, Toronto and Camden, N.J., where the Philadelphia 76ers are rebuilding a piece of the city’s waterfront.

Public use of the practice facilities is part of the teams’ agreements with local municipalities to fund those projects. In Toronto, for example, as part of its 20-year lease at BioSteel Centre, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment must provide more than 1,200 hours of community use annually for city-run recreational programs.

— Don Muret

MILWAUKEE BUCKS
Name: Bucks Training Center*
Opening date: Fall 2017
Location: Downtown Milwaukee, across the street from new arena
Project cost: $30 million
Square footage: 55,000
Architect: Eppstein Uhen/Populous
Sponsor/development partner: TBD
Signature feature: 17,000-square-foot solar roof, producing 15 percent of facility’s total energy use.
Quote: “The thinking was how can we create something to use less carbon footprint in an urban setting,” said Greg Uhen, Eppstein Uhen’s CEO and managing partner of design. “There are areas designated for the public, but it’s also a sanctuary for the players.”

* Pending naming-rights agreement
Rendering: COURTESY OF MILWAUKEE BUCKS


BROOKLYN NETS
Name: Hospital for Special Surgery Training Center
Opened: February 2016
Location: Brooklyn, part of Industry City warehouse district
Project cost: $50 million
Square footage: 70,000
Architect: Manica Architecture
Sponsor/development partner: Hospital for Special Surgery
Signature feature: Rooftop hospitality space with prime New York City skyline views, reserved for team sponsors, season-ticket holders.
Quote: “It’s a first-class addition to what we already do here in Brooklyn,” said Brett Yormark, CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment. “It’s one train stop from Barclays Center and 15 to 20 minutes by car. Most importantly, it’s a great recruiting chip.”

Photos: COURTESY OF BROOKLYN NETS

BOSTON CELTICS
Name: Boston Landing*
Opening date: June 2018
Location: Boston, part of 15-acre mixed-use development
Project cost: Undisclosed
Square footage: 70,000
Architect: Elkus Manfredi Architects/AECOM
Sponsor/development partner: New Balance Development
Signature feature: Forty-foot glass wall enclosing practice courts juts out over the Massachusetts Turnpike, displaying the Celtics’ brand in front of 130,000 daily commuters.
Quote: “We needed to be a competitive franchise,” Celtics President Rich Gotham said. “There’s an arms race right now in the NBA for retaining players and coaching staff. We’re doubling our footprint and size of all functional areas, and there’s a lot of room for expansion.”

* Pending naming-rights agreement
Rendering: ELKUS MANFREDI ARCHITECTS


PHILADELPHIA 76ERS
Name: Philadelphia 76ers Training Facility*
Opening date: Late fall 2016
Location: Camden, N.J.
Project cost: $82 million
Square footage: 125,000
Architect: HOK
Sponsor/development partners: City of Camden, New Jersey Economic Development Authority
Signature feature: Three-story business operations building next to practice facility contains 10,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor.
Quote: “Camden is a city on the rise and sports and entertainment is a vehicle to drive change,” said 76ers CEO Scott O’Neil. “We have neighbors to the left and right in the aquarium and amphitheater that drive incredible traffic to the area. The platform for branding is fabulous.”

* Pending naming-rights agreement
Images: COURTESY OF PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

ATLANTA HAWKS
Name: Emory Healthcare Courts
Opening date: October 2017
Location: Brookhaven, Ga.
Project cost: $50 million
Square footage: 90,000
Architect: HOK
Sponsor/development partner: Emory Healthcare
Signature features: Emory’s two-story sports medicine center serves the public; separate P3 sports performance lab is exclusive to pro athletes, driven by data analytics, focused on injury prevention.
Quote: “Our in-arena practice court became an incompatible use; there were always distractions with one-off events and parking issues, and it was not optimal for the player experience,” said Thad Sheely, the Hawks’ chief financial officer and executive vice president of real estate. “The new trend is different, and it frees up a decent amount of square footage. Think of it as a medical office building and training facility together.”

Rendering: COURTESY OF ATLANTA HAWKS


LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Name: Lakers Practice Facility and Headquarters*
Opening date: July 2017
Location: El Segundo, Calif.
Project cost: $72 million
Square footage: 120,000
Architect: Rossetti/Perkins & Will
Sponsor/development partner: TBD
Signature features: Sponsor gallery fronting the building for team partners to display their brands, flexibility for D-League games with retractable seats and walls.
Quote: “Aside from hosting D-Fenders games, the [event space] provides the team with opportunities to stage community, season-ticket holder and press gatherings,” said Joe Pica, project manager and a designer with Pica+Sullivan Architects.

* Pending naming-rights agreement
Renderings: COURTESY OF LOS ANGELES LAKERS


SACRAMENTO KINGS
Name: Sacramento Kings Training Center
Opening date: October 2016
Location: Downtown Sacramento, attached to Golden 1 Center
Project cost: Part of $507 million arena development
Square footage: 83,000
Architect: AECOM
Sponsor/development partner: Kaiser Permanente
Signature feature: Kaiser Permanente sports medicine facility.
Quote: “This project is bigger than basketball,” Kings President Chris Granger said. “Golden 1 Center and our state-of-the-art training facility are literally and figuratively changing the face of our downtown.”

Rendering: AECOM


TORONTO RAPTORS
Name: BioSteel Centre
Opened: February 2016
Location: Downtown Toronto, part of Exhibition Place complex
Project cost: $35 million
Square footage: 68,000
Architect: Guernsey/Baldwin & Franklin Architects
Sponsor/development partner: BioSteel high-performance energy drink
Signature feature: High-tech “war room” tied to IBM analytics package for gauging player performance.
Quote: “There’s a race to have your own private practice facility to keep up with the competition,” said Bob Hunter, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment’s executive vice president of venues and entertainment. “It could make a difference for players staying in Toronto and free agents.”

Photos: MELISSA WILLIS / GUERNSEY
WASHINGTON WIZARDS
Name: Entertainment and Sports Arena*
Opening date: Fall 2018
Location: Washington, site of the old St. Elizabeths Hospital
Project cost: $55 million
Square footage: 120,000
Architect: Rossetti/Marshall Moya Design
Sponsor/development partner: Events D.C.
Signature feature: 5,000-seat arena, future home of the WNBA Mystics
Quote: “We want it to be iconic and to represent D.C. because there’s a lot of history on that campus,” said Greg O’Dell, president of Events D.C., the district’s convention and sports authority. “The area is underserved, and we’re looking at this project as a catalyst to drive economic impact.”

* Pending naming-rights agreement


Sources: Teams, SportsBusiness Journal research