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The Salt Lake Tribune
Dennis Lindsey only felt like he'd been living in a construction zone.
Five years ago, the Utah Jazz general manager took a metaphorical wrecking ball to his team's roster and has been rebuilding it ever since.
This past week, however, Lindsey donned an actual hard hat and safety goggles as he surveyed the work on the building he considers crucial to the next step of the franchise's evolution.
"We want the most elite training facility in professional sports," he said. "We have to be great at development."
While crews begin their $125 million overhaul of Vivint Smart Home Arena downtown, the Jazz's practice facility on Salt Lake City's west side is undergoing a dramatic renovation of its own. It's not much to look at now, just a stripped down and dust-covered former office space. But come September, the Jazz expect their practice space to have doubled in size, transformed into what team officials have called a "state-of-the-art basketball campus."
"The growth process for us as a team, as an organization is one that's exciting," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said recently at the Zions Bank Basketball Center. "There's just a unified vision of where we want to go. You can look around and see that demonstrated in any number of ways."
And for a coach that has hung his hat on player development — turning Gordon Hayward into an All-Star and Rudy Gobert into an All-NBA center — the expansion of the training center is perhaps foremost among them.
"This is, in our minds, going to be the pre-eminent performance center in the league," Snyder said. "We want that because that's the best way for our guys to get better. That's what we've been about."
One afternoon last week, the walls were bare and wires hung from the ceiling in the room that will soon house the franchise's business enterprises, putting the Jazz's marketing, corporate sponsorship and corporate ticketing operations under the same roof. Meanwhile, a man in a backhoe was busy digging a 10-foot hole that will one day soon be the Jazz's hydrotherapy area, complete with an underwater treadmill to help players rehabilitate after injuries. (And if you've followed the Jazz in recent seasons, you are painfully aware of how important that could be.)
Jazz officials believe the new expanded facility will streamline business operations, while also improving flow for players. The athletes will soon be able to go from a new covered parking area to a coat drop, then straight into a rebuilt locker room.
As the Jazz expand into the space formerly occupied by Prestige Financial, the facility will nearly double in size, to about 90,000 square feet. The area for sports science will nearly triple in size, officials said, incorporating more of the technology the team has co-opted from its collaborations with the P3 training facility in Santa Barbara, Calif. Their strength training space will now be the largest among the NBA's 30 teams, Lindsey said.
Most of the team's current practice space will remain untouched as the front office conducts pre-draft workouts. Once the draft is over, demolition and construction will begin there, too, as crews build new offices and film rooms for Snyder and his coaching staff.
Other features include a living area and gaming lounge, as well as a full-service kitchen and dining area.
"We need to keep pushing ourselves to be better and to grow," Jazz president Steve Starks said of the renovated facilities. "I think that's attractive to players. Players that are with us and future players. Guys want to see that. They want to see that we're making that commitment."
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