Sports Medicine Complex Projected to be NBA Hot Spot

After breaking ground on the Emory Sports Medicine Complex in Executive Park with the Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club this past summer, Emory University is now at the center of what Atlanta Hawks Executive Vice President, Real Estate and Chief Financial Officer Thad Sheely calls the “arms race in facilities in the NBA.”

The two-story, 90,000-square-foot facility in Brookhaven is a major part of the Hawks’ plan to become a “first-class organization [by] investing in people and facilities,” Sheely said at an Oct. 4 meeting at the Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce.

Both Emory’s Sports Medicine Center and the Hawks Operations Department will reside in facility, a result of the partnership between the Hawks and Emory.

The ownership structure is “a three-part deal, where Emory owns the building and leases it to the Hawks, who lease it back to Emory,” Sheely said. “This structure allows the Hawks to design [and] Emory to maintain ownership of the property.”

The Complex is scheduled to be completed in about a year.

“It’s the first facility that will co-locate medical care, sports science and training facilities,” Hawks General Manager Wes Wilcox said.

The Atlanta Hawks training facility, Emory University and sports science firm Peak Performance Project (P3) will share the complex’s first floor. P3 specializes in motion capture technology that can monitor an athlete’s performance over time to better performance and injury prevention. The designs for this floor include two full courts on which the Hawks will practice, according to Sheely.

Emory Orthopaedics will house its medical offices on the second floor of the facility, which will also feature state-of-the-art medical equipment, including a 3 Tesla (3T) MRI scanner.

The three groups will benefit from one another’s work. Emory and P3 plan to share resources for medical research, while P3 and the Hawks are “currently working out an agreement” for the exchange of data and information, Sheely said.

Emory’s partnership with the Hawks is poised to be a key factor going forward for the Hawks’ effort in “attracting and retaining world class basketball talent,” Wilcox said.

Historically, NBA players across the league have come to University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to train during the offseason, Wilcox said. UCLA facilities hosted summer pick-up games, during which “40 NBA players play[ed] on two courts, creating [the] best [pick-up games] in the world,” he said.

However, the venue of those games changed in 2008 when the Los Angeles Clippers opened a new training facility, which Wilcox described as having been “very unique at the time.” Wilcox said that this facility’s development played a key role in the Clippers’ ability to more successfully recruit players, contributing to their achievements in recent years.

Los Angeles, Texas and Atlanta are the most popular locations for NBA players to reside in the offseason, Wilcox said.

“Our vision was to recreate what the Clippers have done in L.A., and do it at a higher level,” Wilcox said. He added that this facility is expected to become an NBA off-season hot spot and a potential host for nearby NCAA basketball teams from Duke University (N.C.), North Carolina University and University of Florida.

Those hopes for the facility follow the first part of the “Hawks basketball philosophy” of “the goal to identify and acquire [players],” Wilcox said. In addition, Wilcox said that the partnerships with Emory and P3 will aid in achieving the second part of “for development and player care.”

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