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Weekend Focus: Grizzlies begin latest ’championship’ facility upgrades

By Michael Wallace
Grind City Media

MEMPHIS – A key stage of the offseason improvement process is already underway for the Grizzlies, who have launched the latest phase of major upgrades to their FedExForum locker rooms and training facilities.

“We want to have the best facility, if not be there in the top five of the league across the board,” Grizzlies coach David Fizdale said. “We want to have an incredible flow, a feel that has all of our departments working closely together in the same area for access to each other. We want it to be a place where our players never want to leave. That’s the vision.”

That vision will take shape in the form of state-of-the-art renovations at FedExForum that include a locker room makeover and expansion of the Grizzlies’ training and weight rooms to about 10,550 square feet in work space. The project will also include improvements to the arena’s Built Ford Tough Training Facility, where new locker room and office space will be created for the Grizzlies’ expansion development league team that will begin play in the 2017-18 season.

new basketball / locker room amenities:

  • LED lighting, expanded player space inside locker room
  • Upgraded video/digital screens
  • Redesigned tile, fixtures in player bathrooms
  • Professionally-enhanced spa and hydrotherapy rooms
  • Football-like artificial turf strip in training room

“In other words, it’s a place you want to come to work every day,” Fizdale said. “It’ll have an incredible, spa-like feeling when you talk about the wet rooms. The weightroom will be college football, Alabama-type stuff. When you walk in there, you want to work out. The locker room is a place where you should be proud to hang your jersey up. That’s really important to coaches and players in this league.”

This marks the third consecutive year Grizzlies' ownership group has committed private financing for upgrades inside Memphis’ public arena to enhance player development. In 2015, the Grizzlies overhauled the basketball operations infrastructure with new front office, coaching offices and screening rooms. Last year, the team returned from the 2016 All-Star break to a new players’ lounge.

Grizzlies’ president of business operations Jason Wexler said the current round of renovations will be complete by the late September start of training camp. Wexler added that input on the project was received from Grizzlies’ players and basketball executives, in addition to industry experts in state-of-the-art fitness, training, physical therapy and infrastructural architecture and design.

The result is a complex that addresses preparation, development and recovery needs from the moment a player arrives at the arena for morning treatment and film study through the post-practice or postgame nutrition and massage sessions.

“Our ownership and basketball operations group had a long-range vision to improve our facilities and make sure they’re state-of-the-art for the NBA, so that we have consummate player satisfaction and an ideal player experience,” Wexler said. “We’ve been going through that on a multi-phase process. We want FedExForum to be our home, day in and day out, not just on game night.”

The Grizzlies are one of only three franchises who house both their NBA and development league training facilities in their game-night arena. When the Grizzlies’ development league franchise was announced in January, NBA D-League president Malcolm Turner pointed to Memphis as the league standard for commitment to facility upgrades and basketball development.

“A lot of teams have separate practice facilities away from the arena,” Wexler said. “We wanted everything to be in the arena to make FedExForum a true home for our guys. This is the final phase of what’s carefully taken us three years to have the best facilities in the NBA in our building.”

Fizdale said the facility improvements will also provide a competitive edge in attracting potential free agents to Memphis, where the Grizzlies extended the NBA’s third-longest streak of consecutive postseason appearances by advancing to the playoffs for the seventh straight season.

“We talk about bringing a championship to Memphis, but that starts with having a championship culture and championship facilities,” Fizdale said. “We can create a championship environment before the trophy. We can carry ourselves as champions before the trophy. I want free agents to know when they come to Memphis, everything is top of the line, first class. That’s a credit first to Grizzlies ownership group and all of these guys here that we’re committed to going after it and pushing forward to compete with the best.”

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Memphis Grizzlies. All opinions expressed by Michael Wallace are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Memphis Grizzlies or its Basketball Operations staff, owners, parent companies, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Memphis Grizzlies and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.