It took a little longer than expected to get up and running, but the Bakersfield Jam's new practice facility appears to have been well worth the wait.
Everything about the 22,000-square-foot venue on Norris Road, which recently became operational and will begin hosting Jam practices this week, screams first class.
That's exactly what majority owner Stan Ellis and Jam managing partner David Higdon had in mind when they broke ground on the project last June with the help of D-League commissioner Dan Reed and numerous local dignitaries.
"What we want to run is a version of a mini NBA franchise but here in Bakersfield," Higdon said. "We're the first team in the D-League to build our own stand-alone practice facility."
The centerpiece of the project is an NBA regulation basketball court featuring hardwood flooring from Philips Arena, home of the Atlanta Hawks and basketball standards that were used previously by the Golden State Warriors.
The facility, now roughly 60 percent complete, was initially scheduled to be finished by the end of last year but ran into a few unexpected snags according to Higdon.
"The city approvals took a little bit longer than anticipated," Higdon said. "The materials were here. There was an issue with the back part of the property. We actually ended up buying the vacant lot behind us and that took a little longer to get that deal done."
Despite the setbacks the Jam hope to have everything completed in another four to five months. Among those keeping an eye on its progress is none other than NBA commissioner David Stern.
The state-of-the art facility will also house locker rooms, a workout room, a small kitchen, a media/conference room, and offices upstairs.
According to Ellis other possible amenities are still in the works.
"What it does is it sends a message that the Bakersfield Jam are serious about the business of basketball to our NBA brethren," Higdon said. "... We want teams to feel comfortable knowing that a guy that they are investing a lot of money in, when they're in Bakersfield, they have a place to workout and to practice and come and train."
Providing NBA style amenities for its players is just one reason for the new practice digs.
Ellis says the nearly $2 million facility is also proof of the team's commitment to the community.
"We want to show season seat holders and sponsors that we will be here long term," Ellis said. "And I think this speaks for itself."
The Jam, though the primary tenants of the building, won't be the only ones to use it. The team plans on making the facility available to youth and community groups.
Jam head coach Scott Roth is also expected to run summer basketball camps there.
But ultimately the Jam hope the new facility will help with its bottom line on game nights.
"We want to put fans in the seats and provide them with good inexpensive entertainment," Ellis said.