"Best-in-class" is a phrase Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross has used often over the past several years, and that's just what the team's new training facility represents.
The Dolphins held a groundbreaking ceremony across the street from Hard Rock Stadium on Wednesday morning where the new Baptist Health Training Complex is scheduled to open in the spring of 2021.
"This is a vision and a dream come true in a lot of ways," Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel said during a press conference at the site. "To start off, we knew being in Nova, we looked at it now for a few years and I kind of said to Steve, when the players walk across the hallway to take a shower, this isn't version of best-in-class facility right now. We need to have a best-in-class facility for this football program that reflects what we want to do with this organization across the board."
The new practice complex represents an extension of the long-standing partnership between the Dolphins and Baptist Health. Along with three practice fields, meeting rooms and offices for the football staff, the new facility will include a sports-performance clinic in a separate building connected to the training complex.
"This incredible venue will not only be the home of our beloved Miami Dolphins and but its amazing staff but also puts the services of sports and orthopedics within this community to service the community and to be accessed by anyone right on this site," said Nelson Lazo, CEO of Doctors Hospital. "We're extremely proud of that. We'll provide the same care, the same services that the players of the Miami Dolphins receive."
The 217,200 square feet complex (125,000-square-foot training facility and 92,200-square-foot feet indoor field) is more than 50,000 square feet larger than the team's current facility in Davie. The Baptist Health Training Complex will house an innovation hub for new technology; virtual reality and a walkthrough space; a state-of-the-art hydrotherapy area; fuel bar; dedicated recovery area, including cryotherapy and isolation tanks; an athletic training room with expansive rehabilitation space; meeting rooms with direct access to the fields; a two-story weight room with a cardio deck; locker rooms; equipment space; dining hall; auditorium; an outdoor practice area with two full natural grass fields; full indoor practice facility; a lobby with a grand staircase; office area; press area; fan amenities; and a broadcast area.
The new training facility will mark a return to Miami-Dade County for the Dolphins, who moved from St. Thomas University to the Baptist Health Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University on July 1, 1993. The move will bring the organization's football and business operations together for the first time in almost 30 years.
"Buildings don't win championships, but cultures and environments do to some degree and coaches and players certainly do," Garfinkel said. "If we can support the coaching staff and players with a better environment to work in, more efficient environment to work in, more resources around them, it can only be a good thing. At the end of the day, players and coaches win championship, not buildings, but we certainly want to provide the best in class environment we can.
"I'd say the indoor practice facility will be a game-changer, even though we like to practice out in the sun here. It'll be a nice indoor practice facility, the weight room. Everything is the right size for what we need. The weight room, the training room. I think the maybe biggest game-changer is just having a medical facility right on site. Right now, if we need to go take an MRI or certain things, we have to borrow Nova's underwater treadmill or those things. We'll have the underwater treadmill right on site, we'll have the MRI and the X-ray right on site. We'll have everything right there. It will just make it more convenient for the players."
Garfinkel said the move was a couple of years in the making, though the focus first was on completing to upgrades to Hard Rock Stadium. Several options were considered before the Dolphins settled on the site across the street from the stadium.
Among the dignitaries who attended the press conference Wednesday were Dolphins General Manager Chris Grier; Vice President of Football Administration Brandon Shore; Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez; State Representative Barbara Jordan; State Senator Oscar Braynon II; Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert; officials from Baptist Health South Florida and Doctors Hospital; and Dolphins alumni Dwight Stephenson, Dick Anderson, Nat Moore, Kim Bokamper, Channing Crowder, Louis Oliver and O.J. McDuffie.
"Our mission here is to honor the proud winning tradition of the Miami Dolphins, as so many have built who came along before any of us were here," Garfinkel said. "This facility marks a new era of Dolphins football. Today marks that in a big way."