After nearly 30 years practicing and training in Waltham, the Celtics announced Tuesday they have agreed to participate in the construction of a new practice facility at Boston Landing in Brighton that will be a combined complex with the Bruins.
The club has teamed with New Balance Development Group LLC on a venue that will be 55 feet in the air, adjacent to the Massachusetts Turnpike, giving the basketball team a workout facility comparable with other NBA clubs. The Celtics have been at Healthpoint in Waltham since 1999 and since then, several NBA teams have built state-of-the-art practice facilities that allows players a place to not only practice, but train, rehabilitate from injuries, and spend some of their down time between games.
The Bruins are scheduled to move into their portion of the facility this fall. The New Balance Group also will lease office space along with housing and retail businesses.
The construction at 40 Guest Street is scheduled to begin this fall and the Celtics are scheduled to move into the Brighton facility in June 2018, meaning they will spend another two seasons at Healthpoint. Celtics president Rich Gotham would not offer specifics about the length of the lease with Boston Landing, only saying it was “long term.”
“We’re about to engage in a nice, long-term relationship,” New Balance Development Group LLC managing director Jim Halliday said in a conference call. “It’s a concept and idea that has transformed over time while we’ve been talking with Rich. It came to a meeting of the minds that worked really well for both groups to [decide] on this location ultimately.”
Halliday said the facility will be approximately 170,000 square feet and “half” of the venue will be leased to the Celtics.
According to the release, the Celtics facility will have two parquet basketball floors (the current facility has one); audio-visual technology that will help the team’s practice regimen; expanded strength and conditioning and recovery facilities, locker rooms and a players’ lounge; physical therapy areas; nutrition facilities; expanded media work room, along with press conference and broadcast facilities (Healthpoint does not have those); and work space for the coaching and front office staffs.
Gotham said the club has been working on the framework of a new facility for nearly two years.
The Celtics, who have won 17 championships and are considered one of the premier NBA franchises, are trying to recruit premium free agents to come to Boston. The franchise has not signed an All-Star-caliber free agent in his prime in more than 30 years.
“We’re really driven by the long-term view, investing in the franchise to maintain a highly competitive position in our league,” Gotham said. “We didn’t have to be left behind in that arms race. In fact, we want to leapfrog it.
“We’re primarily building it for the players and the coaches and basketball staff that’s in place. If a byproduct of that is also that it makes us more attractive to players that are considering coming to Boston, then that’s great.”
Gotham said the Celtics’ brass viewed some recently-built practice facilities as well as older ones and college practice facilities to develop ideas for something unique for the Celtics. Some NBA clubs have facilities in rural areas with acres of land while others have built complexes in downtown sites.
The world champion Golden State Warriors, for example, built a facility on the fifth floor of a downtown Oakland hotel and it features three full courts as well as a training facility.
“I think the result is going to be something special and something to be proud of,” Gotham said. “Our players spend so much time at the facilities. I’ve been involved with the Celtics for 13 years and I’ve seen the change with regard to how players prepare themselves to play. The most important thing about the Celtics is the culture that we’re building and the tradition of winning.
“It’s not all about a practice facility. We were raising banners when the practice facility was Hellenic College. We fully intend to raise banners at our new practice facility.”
Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck, who purchased the club with his father Irving in 2002, expressed excitement about the new practice venue.
“Just the reality of it, having a state-of-the-art, huge practice facility is what we need to take the franchise forward,” he said. “We’ve had a great relationship out in Waltham. It’s been a great, long-term successful place for us and we’ve been appreciative of everything in Waltham, but this is a step forward.”