It’s no secret, Sue Bird’s desire to play in the new $1.15 billion Climate Pledge Arena partly motivated the basketball superstar to return for her 19th WNBA season.
Maybe the Storm can entice Bird to stick around a few more years with its state-of-the-art training facility. The project, announced Friday, is scheduled to begin construction next year and is expected to be completed before training camp for the 2024 season.
Force 10 Facilities LLC (F10F) announced plans to develop the Seattle Storm Center for Basketball Performance on a 50,000-square-foot parcel in Seattle’s Interbay neighborhood.
“We probably started talking seriously about this a year and a half ago, right after the bubble when we won the championship,” Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel said. “We said, ‘OK, the stakes are going up and we want to provide something that’s really unique for our players and our city.’
“So we said, ‘What can we do next that would be really impactful for our players?’ And we decided a practice facility was it. The men have them, but there isn’t a women’s-only one. And we need to do that here because this is the right city to do that in and it’s the right team to do that for.”
The Storm’s new facility will be entirely privately financed, and Brummel said the cost “will be in excess of $60 million.”
“Go big or go home,” Brummel said. “That’s what we do here. It’s going to be amazing. We’ve been involved with the architects every week. The nuances are coming together. We’re thinking about this team and how they spend their entire day inside that facility. From what time is breakfast? What do they eat? Are they in groups? Just working in partnership with our players and getting feedback to give them what they need.”
The practice-facility design includes two side-by-side basketball courts, locker rooms, a lounge, a nutrition center, strength and conditioning training spaces as well as diagnostics and physical therapy rooms.
The new building will also serve as the headquarters for the Storm’s executive and business staff.
“Our organization and players are deserving of it,” coach Noelle Quinn said. “Big props to our ownership group to understand the importance of having a practice facility that’s state of the art. I’m thinking about having that plus playing in Climate Pledge will make us a viable destination.
“I think about free agency and the chance to lure players in with a state-of-the-art facility. Most importantly, for our players it’s an amazing opportunity to have everything in house. Our offices will be there. That’s just the growth of this organization and the growth of our league. These women deserve the best.”
Mercedes Russell is the only Storm player signed with the team through 2024.
Fourth-year center Ezi Magbegor, who is a reserved player after the season and eligible for a long-term deal, said the Storm’s new practice facility can potentially attract free agents to Seattle.
“Absolutely, you want to go somewhere that you like to be in,” Magbegor said. “[Climate Pledge Arena] will attract players, but when you have your own training facility, it just makes it more professional and somewhere you want to play.”
The Storm said 85% of all project team members working on the design and construction of its new practice facility are women.
The Storm originally practiced at the Furtado Center across the street from the Seattle Center. When the Sonics relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008, the Storm practiced at Seattle Pacific University’s Royal Brougham Pavilion.
“We feel so passionately about the league and we feel passionately about the team,” Brummel said. “We’re going to keep pushing the bar forward. We have enough money in the league now from the billionaire owners who have come in and the capital raise that the league did.
“People are ready so we’re going to lead and I hope another team announces next week they’re going to build a facility that’s bigger than ours because that shows we made not only an impact for them, but an impact for the league.”