New amenities like an expansive dining room and kitchen will make the Bucs' new facility a place in which players want to hang out
For the last 14 months, Anthony McFarland has had an easy answer for his friends around the NFL who enjoyed telling him about the fancy amenities at their team complexes. Sometimes he could even provide a little show-and-tell, if he happened to have on the right piece of jewelry.
"They always talk about the things that they've got," said the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle of his buddies on other teams. "Some of the guys talk about how they've got cleaners at their facility, and barbers. I say, 'Yeah, we'll I've got a ring.'"
McFarland, cornerback Brian Kelly and Head Coach Jon Gruden, all present at the unveiling of plans for a new state-of-the-art Buccaneer training facility on Wednesday, were quick to point out that the team's less-than-ideal working conditions at One Buccaneer Place didn't prevent them from winning Super Bowl XXXVII. In fact, during the Bucs' 2002 championship season, Gruden used the building – what he affectionately calls 'the woodshed' – as a motivational piece.
The ring's the thing, of course. This year, the Bucs will again use the woodshed as a launching pad for another run at the title. Very soon, however, the woodshed will be retired and the Buccaneers will have their rings and a world-class training facility.
The team plans to be in its new digs by the 2006 season. After years of uncertainty as to when this critical project would be undertaken, the groundbreaking is just months away. The 2006 season will be upon the Buccaneers before they can blink, and when it's time to move a few miles east to the new facility, you can bet McFarland and his teammates will embrace it.
"It's definitely exciting," said Kelly. "It's good timing, something to look at for the future. You'd think you'd win the Super Bowl and come back and put the trophy up in a nice pretty building, but we came back to the woodshed. We got a championship without a great facility and now we're looking to build from there (in a new facility).
"Two thousand six isn't that far away."
Added McFarland in the same vein: "(One Buccaneer Place) has been my home since I've been in the league, so to be a part of it has been special. But to move on is going to be special, too, to move on to some new and hopefully better things."
What do Buccaneer players have to look forward to?
How about the most training and office space of any team in the National Football League? How about a 10,000-square foot weight room with top-notch equipment and a two-story view of the practice fields through dozens of windows? Players looking to better themselves in the weight room will find multiple lift stations, a free weight area and a cardio/aerobic workout area. If it's cool outside, large glass doors can be opened for natural ventilation; if it's not, the weight room is separate from the main building and will have its own temperature controls.
"Obviously, you want to be able to work in and environment that's conducive to working, although you should be able to get your work done anywhere," said McFarland. "It's just a little nicer to be able to come to work and sit in the air sometimes instead of the heat."
After a workout, McFarland will find a more spacious locker room in which to unwind, with 70 permanent lockers, all of them larger than the current One Buc Place model. And he won't have to take his lunch sitting in front of said locker; the new facility will have a 5,600-square-foot dining room and kitchen. A lounge twice the size of the current model may also prompt players to hang around the facility a little longer.
"It definitely keeps you longer hours at work," said Kelly of the type of state-of-the-art amenities that will fill the new complex.
Of course, a majority of a player's time at work is spent either on the practice field or in the meeting room. Both of those situations will be more attractive at the new site, as well. On Wednesday, Gruden seemed particularly pleased with the 4,000-square-foot team auditorium included in the new facility's plans. Currently, the Bucs hold many of their team meetings in their locker room and others in the space that doubles as the organizations' press conference room, nay, triples as the draft-time 'war room.'
"As you install game plans, you can install it in a locker cell back there, or you can install it in a theater-type environment that's more conducive for learning," said Gruden. "The better the facilities, the better teacher I think you can be. Camaraderie, unity still are very important aspects of professional football and in life. A nice, air-conditioned $30 million-dollar facility is going to give us every opportunity to do some things that I think our players will particularly appreciate."
That facility is still approximately two years away, but Buccaneer players like Kelly and McFarland already appreciate it.
"It definitely makes you proud to be a part of something like that, to know that you've got the biggest facility around," said Kelly. "They give you the best opportunity to be as successful as you want to be because you have all the amenities."
In a nutshell, that's the idea. The Glazer family has continuously strived to upgrade every aspect of the franchise, because it only makes sense in a high-stakes, high-salary environment to help your players and coaches get the most out of their abilities.
"Players are a business within themselves and one of the reasons they select a club is that they want to make sure they can maximize their talent," said General Manager Bruce Allen. "Sometimes that comes from proper training, proper weight equipment and the perfect environment. I think with this world class facility, we're going to set a new standard in all of sports for the future of taking care of players and taking care of coaches."