1 Year After Opening Auerbach Center, C's Understand Its Impact
BOSTON – The Auerbach Center at New Balance World Headquarters is living up to its lofty expectations.
A little more than a year after the grand opening of the Boston Celtics’ sparkling new practice facility, the team’s basketball operations staff now has a full understanding of how their lives and the lives of their players have changed following their move from an outdated space in nearby Waltham. Suffice to say, the results are glowingly positive, as assistant general manager and team counsel Mike Zarren recently made clear to Celtics.com.
“Literally everything we do on the basketball side has been improved as a result of the new facility,” he said.
There’s a lot to unpack with that quote, but let’s begin with the on-court work the Celtics put in throughout the calendar year.
Each season, teams convene for training camp in late-September and play through at the very least mid-April. Playoff teams typically play until late-April at the earliest, and mid-June at the latest. Then players move into the offseason, which is critical to their growth.
Boston’s players are set up for success and growth amid each of those phases, thanks to improved on-court and strength and conditioning facilities.
Quite possibly the most significant improvement within the building is the addition of a second, full-sized court. The addition of a second court at the Auerbach Center provides the team with options it simply did not have in the past, while it somehow managed its way through season after season at the old facility, which housed only one court.
“It allows you to do two courts with six functional baskets with 3-point lines on each basket that are spaced appropriately, and that allows you to do both individual and group work,” said Brad Stevens, who, a year ago, was vocal in his excitement about adding a second court. “I think that especially in the offseason, when guys are here on their own and we’re limited in how much we can work with them, they all can have a basket.
He continued, “If we have somebody who’s rehabbing and we’re practicing on one court, they’ve got a whole other court to do what they need to do. There’s so many positives that you can have from that space.”
Even from a business perspective, as Zarren mentioned.
“We’ll do community events on one court while a player is working out in the evening on the other court,” he said. “It’s just a way more flexible space.”
So, too, is the strength and conditioning area of the facility, which runs parallel to the north-end baselines of the two courts. That area is approximately three-times the size of the previous version in Waltham, which opens the door to a far more expansive program.
The players were placed in great position to recover from all of their work as well. The back portion of the facility, which houses the pool, the cold tubs, a float tank, a nap room and many other state-of-the-art areas, was put to constant use this past season.
“They’re in the cold-tub all the time,” Stevens said of the players. “Obviously we had several instances this year where we left guys behind on the road because our pool and our ability to rehab in the pool were way better than anything we were going to have on the road. That room is used a ton.”
Zarren added that he has seen players utilizing the nap room in the afternoon as well.
Following a session on the court, in the pools or tubs, or in the nap room, the next popular destination has been the kitchen, where the Celtics employ a full-time chef. The addition of a chef and a restaurant-quality kitchen impacted the nutritional patterns of the players in a very positive way.
“One of the biggest things we’ve learned is the nutritional needs of each of our athletes are different,” Zarren said. “And when you have a full kitchen, you can actually cook things in a much more individualized fashion, tailored to each athlete’s needs, rather than bringing in some sort of a buffet where they all just each the same stuff.”
The kitchen, combined with all of the other areas of the facility, allows the players and the front office staff members to “maximize their day,” according to Stevens. That’s a far cry from the former facility, where there wasn’t much maximization to be had.
Surprisingly, there wasn’t much talk about the facility during the regular season. The media didn’t ask about it, and the players didn’t talk about it. But that just may be a good thing, according to Stevens.
“You hear all the time when things don’t meet peoples’ needs,” he said, “but there is nothing to complain about in there. It’s got everything you could possibly need.”