Raptors, Blue Jays Overdue for Training Center Updates


It’s about time the Raptors and Blue Jays revamped their training facilities.

With last week’s announcement that the Toronto Raptors were partnering with BioSteel for their new training center in Toronto, and Toronto Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro recently stating his intention to up the game of the Jays’ spring training grounds, it begs the question: what took so long to address such an important aspect of improving player conditioning and attracting elite prospects?

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According to Sportsnet.ca, the 68,000 square foot BioSteel Centre training complex will include two basketball courts, a large medical area, a full hydrotherapy zone, and an athletic training room twice the size of their current one inside the Air Canada Centre. It’s scheduled to open by February, in time for the 2016 NBA All-Star Game in Toronto.

According to Teresa Resch, the Raptors’ Senior Director of Basketball Operations and Player Development, the Raptors “work out of a little closet”.

The National Post reported earlier this month that Shapiro believes the Blue Jays need a “state-of-the-art facility that provides a culture capable of rehabbing, training (and) developing players in a cutting-edge environment that provides a competitive advantage”

Nov 2, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Toronto Blue Jays new president Mark Shapiro speaks to the media during an introductory conference at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

In 2017, the Jays will have a chance to opt-out of their current spring training facility in Dunedin, where they have flocked every February and March since 1977.

The National Post calls the Dunedin stadium “spartan by modern standards,” noting that “players who join the Jays from other teams are underwhelmed by the amenities”.

It’s not yet clear whether there would be space — or will — to build the Jays a revamped facility in Dunedin. In 2009 as Indians GM, Shapiro oversaw the move of that team’s spring training complex from Florida to Goodyear, Arizona.

Let’s take a look at some of the best training facilities in the NBA and MLB that, hopefully, will be emulated at the BioSteel Centre and the future Blue Jays spring training complex:

The Madison Square Garden Training Center in Tarrytown, New York

  • Built in 2002.
  • Home to the NBA’s New York Knicks, WNBA’s New York Liberty and the NHL’s New York Rangers.
  • A 105,000 square foot facility including two basketball courts and a hockey rink.
  • 1,800 square foot cardiovascular and weight room, steam rooms, whirlpool and cold plunge.
  • According to Rangers.NHL.com, “equipped with well-appointed private areas and office space, exercise rooms with dedicated equipment for each team, the latest technology and first-class amenities.”

George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida

  • Built in 1996.
  • Home of the MLB’s New York Yankees.
  • The largest spring training ballpark in Florida.
  • Seating capacity of 11,026 since a $7.5 million expansion added more seats and amenities in 2006.
  • The first spring training stadium to include luxury suites.
  • David Price introduced Barack Obama at a campaign rally at the field in 2008.

Sports Authority Training Center at HealthPoint in Waltham, Massachusetts

Don’t take it from us how great this place is. Here’s Paul Pierce giving some kids a tour of the facility in 2013:

  • Opened in 1999, home to the training and practices of the NBA’s Boston Celtics since 2002.
  • A 140,000 square foot wellness and fitness center where Celtics players can occasionally be seen grabbing a meal at the adjoining cafe alongside other HealthPoint fitness club members.

Surprise Stadium in Surprise, Arizona

Kansas City Royals designated hitter Kendrys Morales bats against the Los Angeles Dodgers during a spring training game at Surprise Stadium. Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

  • Opened in 2002, home of the MLB’s Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers.
  • Located 25 miles northwest of Phoenix.
  • Has a seating capacity of over 10,500 fans and sits on a 124 acre site that, according to the Royals’ web site, includes six full practice fields and a half field, as well as separate clubhouse and office facilities.
  • No bat flipping allowed.

Mayo Clinic Square in Minneapolis, Minnesota

  • Courts and a training facility opened at the site in June this year, home to the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves and WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx.
  • According to NBA.com, the $25 million, 107,000 square foot facility houses the new training center for the teams, offices for basketball and business operations and a basketball academy.
  • Unlike most training facilities, it’s located directly across First Avenue from the teams’ home arena, the Target Center.

Maybe inside the Raptors and Blue Jays front offices there was a prolonged shortage of money — or will — to make these kinds of necessary changes. Or maybe the state of the Dunedin facility and the lack of premium basketball courts in metro Toronto had become so embarrassing that the thought of raising the issue publicly was too humiliating.

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Whatever the reason for the delay, there’s finally reason to be hopeful about the future. If Shapiro gets his wish, within the next couple of years both the Raptors and the Blue Jays will be welcoming players young and old to new, state-of-the-art training facilities. Hopefully not ones where starting left-fielders blow out their knees on sprinkler heads.