As the city of Toronto and the Toronto Raptors prepare to host the 2016 NBA All-Star festivities this weekend, the team officially opened its brand new, state-of-the-art training facility, BioSteel Centre, on Wednesday. MLSE Chairman Larry Tanenbaum and Raptors President and General Manager Masai Ujiri were joined by Toronto Mayor John Tory, NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum, BioSteel President John Celenza and team partners to celebrate the facility’s grand opening.
The BioSteel Centre, located on the Exhibition Place grounds, will be the team’s new training and development centre as well as home to the team’s front office.
“Our vision for the Raptors is to build a championship contender that represents our city, our entire country and our fans with great pride and is ‘world-class’ in every way and Masai is certainly helping the team make great strides towards that goal,” said MLSE Chairman of the Board, Larry Tanenbaum. “The opening of BioSteel Centre is an important part of that vision. It is a development home for the team and will give them the tools they need to continue building on its progress of the past two years. We are very thankful to BioSteel, and all of the Raptors partners, as well as our fans, for their tremendous support.”
The two-storey, 68,000 square foot BioSteel Centre features two full size courts, including six baskets; state-of-the-art locker rooms with individual TV monitors above each locker; a large fitness, weight room and training area; an extensive medical and rehabilitation area, including cold and hot tubs and an underwater treadmill; and a player lounge with a full service kitchen and dining room.
“The Raptors are very fortunate to receive such incredible support, from our fans right across the country, from the city of Toronto and from MLSE itself,” said Masai Ujiri. “BioSteel Centre is standing proof of that support and it will give the team a distinct competitive advantage as we work to build a winner in Toronto. On behalf of the entire Raptors organization, thank you to Mr. Tanenbaum and the MLSE Board of Directors, Mayor Tory and the city of Toronto and BioSteel for their commitment and for sharing our vision.”
BioSteel was announced as the facility’s naming partner in November, 2015 after a long-standing and productive relationship between the Raptors and the company. In addition to BioSteel signage displayed prominently on the facility itself, the company’s logo will also be featured on the top right corner of the team’s practice jersey, the first time a partner has appeared there.
“Authenticity is everything to us. The Toronto Raptors have been ordering BioSteel products for years and when the opportunity to formally partner with the Raptors came about, it was a must,” said John Celenza, President of BioSteel Sports Nutrition Inc. “It’s true that invoice 001 at BioSteel was issued to the Toronto Raptors and now five and a half years later things have come full circle.”
Another key feature of the BioSteel Centre will be a technologically advanced cognitive operations centre for the team’s management and front office staff. The new interactive operations room, named Raptors Insights Central powered by IBM Watson, was designed by IBM Interactive Experience. It is based on IBM analytics and cognitive technology delivered through a new first-of-its-kind solution called IBM Sports Insights Central. Through interactive screens and mobile devices, it provides Raptors general management and operations professionals with a comprehensive view of all pertinent data, such as player information, team and league statistics, trade simulation and contract management. It can be extended to include college players to understand their potential for professional play.
The consolidated data and associated insights are visualized through an interactive conference table-top and curved wall of dynamic touch screens. Using a mobile extension, Raptors management can take the application with them as they travel.
In addition to the Raptors use of the BioSteel Centre, the facility will also be used for a number of basketball development camps and other community groups.
Ellis Don Construction served as general contractors for the construction of the BioSteel Centre with Guernsey Architects as the lead architect and Baldwin & Franklin as supporting architects. ICON Venue Group was project manager for the BioSteel Centre project.