The Atlanta Hawks began practicing in their new $50 million, state-of-the-art training facility in Executive Park last month, perhaps the only bright spot the team is enjoying right now  in what many are saying is a rebuilding season.

Coach Mike Budenholzer.

Coach Mike Budenholzer believes the new facility will pay dividends for the team in the future.

“I love it,” he said of the new facility following a recent afternoon practice session. “It’s going to be a game-changer for our players, for their growth and development, and for our organization.”

The sports medicine equipment available in the new facility will give Hawks players an opportunity not only to practice, but to maintain their health and to recover from injuries, he said.

The new facility was created through a partnership between the Hawks and Emory Healthcare. The privately funded facility will combine the Hawks’ training facility and Operations Department with 30,000 square feet dedicated to Emory sports medicine facilities. It is the first such facility in the NBA.

“It’s going to be the best in the NBA,” Budenholzer said.

The Emory/Hawks partnership is a $50 million deal for the land purchase and building construction with $14 million being covered by Emory University and the Hawks providing $36 million. Emory University will then provide a ground lease to the Hawks for the practice facility.

Kent Bazemore.

To secure the deal to have the Hawks and Emory located the facility in Brookhaven, city officials agreed to offer the Hawks a $36 million tax break over 15 years.

Emory is the team’s official sports medicine provider and secured naming rights to the facility. Emory’s Sports Medicine Center will move to the Brookhaven site as well.

The complex will also serve as the East Coast headquarters for Peak Performance Project, known as P3, “a world-leader in applied sports science that provides individualized training for elite athletes from across the globe – using data and science to give them a competitive edge.”

Emory Healthcare still is putting finishing touches on its portion of the building and the grand opening of the facility is tentatively set for later this month.

The front entrance to the facility bears the Emory Healthcare name. A gated entrance to the side of the building for players and coaches shows the Atlanta Hawks logo and name.

During the recent visit, players were shooting free throws on an expansive court with numerous signs on the walls and the basketball goals noting them as the “Emory Healthcare Courts.” Padding behind the four main goals is branded “ATL.”

John Collins.

“It’s awesome and big … you have to walk a long ways to get to places,” guard and forward Kent Bazemore said with a smile. “I’m a huge golfer and it’s got that country club feel. One thing NBA players love is new stuff.”

“This new facility is awful, I hate it,” rookie John Collins joked. “Seriously, it’s pretty much a country club with basketball. It has everything we need.”

Bazemore said the new facility is one of the steps the team is taking toward becoming a top tier organization in the NBA. He expects NBA players who visit Atlanta over the summers to use the new facility.

Collins also hopes the renovation of Philips Arena will help boost the team’s stature in the league. “They go hand-in-hand and hopefully we can turn some positives out of that,” he said.

For rookie Isiah Taylor, who just joined the team, the new facility is the only one he knows as an Atlanta Hawk. “It’s all I know so far. As you can see, it looks pretty good to me,” he said.

Isiah Taylor.

Taylor said he is looking for a place to live and he hasn’t ruled out settling in Brookhaven. Collins and Bazemore , who live in Buckhead, said locating their practice facility in Brookhaven meant their commute to work is much easier than the one they used to take to practices at Philips Arena downtown.

“I live in Buckhead … and it’s a hop, skip and a jump,” Collins said.

“Aw, yeah, it’s like night and day,” Bazemore said.

The large gymnasium where the Hawks practice. (Dyana Bagby)
The main entrance to the sports medicine and practice facility. (Dyana Bagby)