Future Home of the Sixers: Part 3 - Creating a Sanctuary, Committed to a Community
Since the 76ers first formally issued an update on their training complex three weeks ago, Sixers.com has profiled various aspects of the project through its “Future Home of the Sixers” series. The information contained in these articles was gathered during an exclusive mid-January tour of the construction site given by Sixers President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Sam Hinkie.
The first two installments of this series have focused primarily on the facility’s architecture and design. With a transparent infrastructure; flexible space for practice, training, and recovery; and all-encompassing amenities; the Sixers’ forthcoming headquarters was conceived to be a meticulously-planned, comfortable, adaptable, innovative, player-first destination that promotes hard work. Links to these pieces can be found below.
In the third and final part of this “Future Home of the Sixers” series, we’ll examine more of the training complex’s practical features, which the organization believes will set the facility apart from other training centers around the NBA. Additionally, this article will examine the Sixers’ decision to build their new headquarters in Camden, New Jersey, and the impact the project will have on the community surrounding the Delaware River waterfront city.
“It sort of feels like a sanctuary”
Given the substantial amount of time, both in-season and during the off-season, that players will spend at the Sixers’ new training complex, Sam Hinkie’s hope is that the facility functions “like a sanctuary.”
“We want it to be a place where our players can feel safe,” said Hinkie.
What functions do sanctuaries perform? First, they provide inhabitants a haven of sorts.
Along those lines, no part of the Sixers’ training complex will offer a more peaceful, private setting than the players’ locker room. Located on the first level of the building, within steps of the training area and practice courts, this space has specifically been designed to make players feel at home, secure, and at ease in their surroundings.
“These locker rooms are different than what you see in other places,” said Hinkie. “I don’t think the coaches will be in there much. It will be even a little more exclusive within there. All the teaching either happens on the floor or in the film room, but not in the locker room like it does on a game night. No whiteboards. It’s a different kind of vibe. And for these guys, this is their workplace everyday. This is the place you go every single day.”
Hinkie expects the Sixers to find their locker stalls vastly upgraded from the ones at their disposal at The Center.
“First class,” Hinkie projected. “Bigger areas, all closed-front lockers. They all have recessed doors. Trying to find the balance between comfortable, and casual.”
As much as the locker room will represent a sanctuary of privacy for Sixers’ players, there will also be spaces at the training complex that serve as sanctuaries for recovery and wellness. The Sixers staff spent a great deal of time investigating scientific, technological, and holistic strategies geared towards helping the team handle its year-round physical and mental demands. They are eager to put these findings into practice.
“Recovery is every bit as important as training, if not more so,” said Hinkie. “So it might be in equal measures of training and recovery. If you’re going to train really hard, you better be especially focused on recovery, too.”
Hinkie believes that hydrotherapy can specifically help in this regard. The Sixers have designed their training complex accordingly.
“This is another area I think we invested in a differential way than what others have done,” Hinkie said. “I think that in 15 years, there’s going to be less and less and less running on hardwood floors, and more and more and more how do you train your lungs and heart and the like without putting as much pressure on your joints.”
“This is meant to feel like a really high-end spa,” added Hinkie, describing the hydrotherapy space. “It’s all enclosed. It has a 40-foot lap pool. It has a big cool tub and a big hot tub, so you think a couple of rectangles. But it’s not exactly that, because one of the things that it’s meant to do that the Australians are big on, and we’ve seen it in other places, too, is you can do team recovery around a pool.”
Like occasionally stringing up a volleyball net in the pool.
“Really, the goal is something low impact, loosen up, stretch out, relax, laugh. Laugh, smile, high-five a teammate. This is about mental wellness sometimes as much as it is as physical wellness.”
As much as the Sixers stand to gain from the training complex, so too does the city where it is being created.
“It takes a long-term commitment to put something like this in place”
So the Sixers, an NBA franchise determined to lay the foundations for a lasting championship culture, are building a brand new; sparkling; state-of-the-art; 125,000 square foot; two-building campus in Camden. What stake, then, does the city itself have in this project?
Between attractions like Adventure Aquarium, which opened in 1992, and the BB&T Pavilion, which hosted its first summer concert series in 1995, Camden has long been seeking to trigger its own turnaround. In a city motivated to speed up its own development, the Sixers are confident they’ve identified an ideal civic partner.
“Whether on the court or in the community, we continue to spend time and invest resources where we see big upside,” said Sixers Chief Executive Officer Scott O’Neil. “It should come as no surprise then, that in our commitment to build the biggest and best training complex in the NBA, we chose a community on the rise, with dynamic, socially aware corporate partners. We are confident that Camden is the right place at the right time to build our new home.”
Camden Mayor Dana L. Redd recently said in a statement, “I am extremely pleased with the progress of the new Sixers’ headquarters. Even more gratifying is the commitment the Sixers have already demonstrated and will continue to do so through various community engagement activities.”
Nearly 13 months have passed since dirt was first moved at the active construction site located on the Camden street corner of Delaware Avenue and Harbor Boulevard. In less than 10 months, the Sixers estimate that their new basketball-specific training complex will be finished.
“I think it’s a good example a long-term commitment to put something like this in place,” Hinkie said. “It takes a lot of vision, and real resources, and a fair bit of patience, and a lot of integrated thought about what’s best to pull of something this big.”
Sixers’ management has sought feedback from players throughout the planning stages for the complex. The organization is excited to reveal to them the full structure as it nears completion.
“It’s exciting because we can’t wait to finally show it off in person to our players and staff,” said Hinkie. “For them to see all the planning that’s gone into it, it’ll be a great place to come to work every day, and one that we think, over time, will move the needle.”
Even with Hinkie expressing patience following the recent tour he guided through the Sixers’ training complex, one fact can’t be disputed. As the project moves forward, regardless of its pace, the Sixers are getting that much closer to beginning a highly-anticipated, transformative chapter in the franchise’s history.