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The Atlanta Hawks won’t just build a brand-new 90,000 square foot training center for hoops; they’ll do it by partnering with Emory Healthcare to create a practice center, basketball operations headquarters and sports medicine research center in one facility.
By combining the two uses in the same Brookhaven, Georgia, center, it allows the Atlanta players immediate treatments and on-site access to equipment, such as the 3 Tesla MRI scanner for quick diagnoses for soft tissue and bone bruise injuries.
The Hawks will use up about 60,000 square feet for basketball purposes, leaving 30,000 for Emory for “comprehensive preventative and rehabilitative treatment and sports performance training.”
Tony Ressler, principal owner of the Hawks, says he thinks the new facility, designed by HOK’s Sports + Recreation + Entertainment practice, will “revolutionize how other NBA teams approach integrating sports medical technology within their own basketball training centers.”
The Hawks expect the new center to break ground this summer and open in fall 2017.
“The building’s modern, clean design was inspired by the desire to promote a spirit of wellness,” George Heinlein, Regional Director of Sports + Recreation + Entertainment at HOK, tells SI.com. “This facility isn’t just a space to train – it’s a space to recover and care for athletes in a holistic way. By finding the synergies between research, science, healthcare and training, we believe we can create a building that actually encourages higher performance.”
The sports medicine offerings will include 3D motion capture, force plates to measure joint stress and on-site blood and sweat testing and analysis for nutritional deficits and markers key for the creation of individualized recovery plans. The center also plans a dedicated recovery area for cryotherapy, sensory deprivation and in-ground hydrotherapy.
“Within our basketball program, we place a great emphasis on player development, as improving each player within our system is critical to our team’s collective success,” says Mike Budenholzer, head coach and president of the Hawks’ basketball operations. “The foundation of that development is ensuring the peak health and conditioning of our players and providing each of them with the coaching, resources and environment to develop to the best of their ability.”
In addition to courts, weight training, a team and visitor’s locker room, player’s lounge hydrotherapy and nutrition bar, there are also plans to incorporate a first of its kind athlete recovery suite. The suite will include massage rooms, cryotherapy chambers, anti-gravity chairs and flexible rooms for yoga and relaxation.
To blend the indoors and outdoors, an indoor turf training area will open to an outdoor artificial turf training area with a three lane lap pool nearby.
P3, which specializes in medical-driven high-performance and individualized training programs to correct biomechanical deficiencies and optimize athletic needs, will have a significant space in the facility, emphasizing a research-driven training approach to the Hawks. With P3 and Emory Healthcare’s leadership, the Hawks will shape research conducted and training methods will be refined on the spot based on evolving medical and performance needs of athletes, says Heinlein.
“Our goal was to build a world-class training and sports medicine center that would provide the best services and technology currently available to our players” Thad Sheely, Hawks executive vice president, real estate and chief financial officer, tells SI.com.
By fall 2017, the Hawks will move one step closer to integrating the overall health and well being of their players into basketball. Consider it the next step in basketball operations.
Tim Newcomb covers sports aesthetics—stadiums to sneakers—and training for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.