Better late than never.
The Nets will finally be practicing in Brooklyn come February 2016, once the club’s state-of-the-art facility in Sunset Park is completed. The team gave an early tour on June 23 of the unfinished Hospital for Special Surgery Training Center, which was originally scheduled to open this year, in time for the 2015–16 season.
“It gives me a new sense of appreciation for getting Barclays Center done on time,” said Irina Pavlova, president of Onexim Sports and Entertainment, the company through which Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov owns the team. “There were so many little things that delayed the project. It wasn’t one big event. Permits took longer, access took longer.”
The $45-million facility will cover the eighth floor and rooftop of an abandoned, century-old warehouse on 39th Street between First and Second avenues in Industry City. The plans include two full-size basketball courts with televisions and dry-erase boards for coaching purposes.
Nets front-office staff, coaches and players will enjoy luxurious amenities including a weight room, a hydro-therapy area, an 18-seat multimedia theater, a player lounge complete with kitchen, billiards, and ping pong tables, and a roof-top area with stunning panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline. The space will also include offices and workout rooms reserved for the coaches and for Billy King, the team’s general manager.
The new facility will certainly be an upgrade. Since moving to Brooklyn in 2012, the team has continued practicing and operating out of its old facility in East Rutherford, N.J. But even that site was a step up for the team — before moving into the East Rutherford facility, the Nets actually practiced at a truck stop in North Bergen, N.J.
Head coach Lionel Hollins said that he hopes the swanky Sunset Park practice center will help the Nets attract free agents.
“You try to show guys the city, the arena, and a facility like this enhances that,” Hollins said. “We practiced at four or five facilities in one city when I played.”
Pavlova said that the Nets looked at over 50 potential locations, but settled on the Industry City site because of its proximity to airports and Barclays Center, but she also cited a desire to get in on the ground floor of the revitalization of the Sunset Park and Gowanus areas. The team plans to host community events, local business-development functions, youth basketball clinics, and job fairs and internships for neighborhood residents.
Allowing local college and high school teams to use the facilities is also a possibility, she said.
“We plan to be here for a long time,” said Pavlova. “We want to help revitalize this neighborhood.”