The Thunder will break ground on a new practice facility Thursday morning.
A year from now, Oklahoma City’s NBA team will feature what team chairman Clay Bennett has promised — a training facility that will rival any in the league.
When fans hear terms such as "finest facilities,” some probably envision Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban providing his players with personal laptops, flat screen TVs and a plush locker room.
The Thunder’s new facility will provide perks for players, but a training facility’s primary role is to provide practice courts and weight training equipment to assist players during a grueling 82-game season.
"We hope to establish a platform that in Oklahoma City, as a franchise, we are known for providing cutting edge best care, best rehab and best approach to medical services that there is in the league,” Bennett said earlier this year.
The new facility, to be constructed on Britton Road, near Broadway Extension in northeast Oklahoma City, will feature two full length practice courts, luxurious locker rooms, team meeting rooms and nutrition, rehab and medical services.
When the franchise moved from Seattle, some skeptics claimed a small-market team would have difficulties retaining star players or attract free agents.
Oklahoma City’s night life can’t compete with Los Angeles, New York and other major markets, but Kevin Durant and other players have defused some of those concerns, stating they would love to play for the organization for years to come.
Big, fat contracts are the best incentive for any free agent. But having one of the league’s premier practice facilities only will enhance the team’s ability to lure players to a smaller market.
Details will be announced Thursday morning, but the new Integris Health Thunder Training Center is expected to feature antique-type wood lockers, large-screen TVs, theatre-like team meeting rooms with satellite dishes, wall-to-wall carpet and state-of-the-art weight and rehab equipment.
Ping pong tables, DVD players and other perks aren’t necessary to win NBA games. Often times, they serve notice an organization is first-class and that players are a priority.
"This will be the players’ office,” Bennett said. "Many times it is home for a lot of the guys. They spend a lot of time in there. We want to make it the best it can be.”