As recently as the early-1990s, NBA teams would practice at local college gyms. Just imagine, high-profile, multimillion dollar athletes working on their post-up games and pick-and-roll defense on the creaky floors and shaky backboards at Northwest Backwater U.
Eventually teams got their own practice facilities, and now teams are building state-of-the-art complexes filled with practice courts, locker rooms, fitness centers, hydrotherapy pools, dining halls, and medical and training rooms.
Everything is top-of-the-line, too. Teams want to make sure their players are happy, rested, and physically fit. Teams also use the facilities as a way to lure free agents, to make their team a place where the league’s best players want to play.
The Atlanta Hawks are shaping up to become one of those teams. The Hawks and Emory Healthcare and partnering to build a 90,000-sf training and sports medicine center in Brookhaven, Ga.
The building, designed by HOK, will be the NBA’s first practice facility to be located within a sports medicine center. The arrangement allows for immediate treatment and on-site access to advanced medical technology, like the 3 Tesla MRI, a body scanner that can detect injuries from bruises to torn ligaments. Emory will use 30,000 sf of the building for sports training and preventive and rehabilitative treatment.
The facility will also have equipment for 3D motion capture, cryotherapy, sensory deprivation, and in-ground hydrotherapy. Hawks players will receive training services from sports science company P3.
“By blending research, sports medicine, healthcare and training into one building, the Atlanta Hawks and Emory Healthcare will change the way the industry approaches athletic training and injury prevention,” George Heinlein, a Regional Rirector of HOK’s Sports + Recreation + Entertainment practice, said in a statement. “We have brought together HOK’s multidisciplinary leaders in healthcare, science and technology, and sports facility design to elevate the training experience and create a new model for professional and collegiate athletics.”
Construction will begin this summer, and the building will open in the fall of 2017, before the NBA season begins. The privately-funded center will cost roughly $50 million.
The Hawks currently practice in an auxiliary gym at their home at Philips Arena.